Worcestershire Rapids will be looking for a change of fortune when they visit Derbyshire Falcons tomorrow evening after going down by 34 runs to Lancashire Lightning in a Vitality Blast encounter at Emirates Old Trafford.
With four games remaining, there is still much to play for with the Rapids now joined on 10 points by the Lightning – and only one point outside the top four.
Overseas duo Ish Sodhi and Ben Dwarshuis impressed with the ball for the Rapids, but Lancashire, with the aid of some late momentum from Rob Jones, still managed a par score of 159-6.
The Rapids were always facing a difficult challenge in reply after losing three wickets in the powerplay.
It was a battle to work the ball around and pick up the ones and twos against an accurate attack.
With a career-best 4-16, left-arm spinner Tom Hartley was the key performer for the Lightning in mid-innings, with Saqib Mahmood (4-25) inflicting the early and late breakthroughs.
Captain Ben Cox hit a bright and breezy 36, but the Rapids could not sustain the necessary pace and were dismissed for 125 in 18.3 overs.
Lancashire opted to bat, and openers Keaton Jennings and Finn Allen had fortune on their side during the early overs from Dwarshuis and Dillon Pennington.
Jennings on two lofted Pennington inches over the head of Dwarshuis at long-off and inside-edged the same bowler past the stumps for two.
In an eventful over, Ed Barnard, who was staring straight into the sun, was unable to hold onto a chance at deep mid-wicket offered by Jennings and could only parry the ball for six.
Allen on two top-edged Dwarshuis just out of reach of the dive of Daryl Mitchell at extra cover and the same player mis-hit Pennington inches over Ish Sodhi at mid off.
Pennington eventually broke through in his third over when Sodhi caught Allen (25) off a leading edge at mid-off at 52-1.
Lancashire ended the powerplay on 54-1, but the Rapids struck back with a trio of quick wickets.
Jennings (34) went for a big hit against Sodhi and only picked out Brett D’Oliveira on the deep mid-wicket boundary.
Charlie Morris (1-36) struck in the next over as Alex Davies (15) cut the ball straight to Sodhi at short third man.
The New Zealander claimed a third catch when Lancashire captain Dane Vilas (3) aimed a shot to leg off Pennington (2-41) but top-edged behind keeper Cox, and Sodhi made good ground to hold onto a low effort.
It meant three wickets had gone down for ten runs in 2.5 overs.
The Rapids attack kept a tight grip on proceedings, and Lancashire went a spell of seven overs without finding the boundary.
Sodhi finished with excellent figures of 1-24 from his four overs in addition to his three catches.
Dwarshuis came back into the attack and made a double breakthrough in his third over.
Steven Croft (18) went across his stumps before aiming a big legside hit, but only top-edged to Cox and then Luke Wells (0) picked out Morris at long-on.
Dwarshuis ended with 2-30 from his spell, but some late hitting by Jones, whose unbeaten 49 was his T20 best, and Luke Wood lifted the Lightning to 159-6 and gave them a momentum boost.
When the Rapids replied, D’Oliveira (2) was caught at extra cover in the first over Lightning paceman from Saqib Mahmood.
Jake Libby drilled Luke Wood straight back down the ground for four and pulled the former Rapids loan signing for another boundary.
But on 10, Libby backed away to try and hit Mahmood over cover and picked out Jennings.
Mitchell, promoted to number four, got off the mark with a splendid drive for four off Mahmood, who was pulled for a boundary by Riki Wessels.
But Mitchell on five played back to spinner Tom Hartley and was bowled as the Rapids ended the powerplay on 38-3.
Wessels played a fine cut off Wood to the ropes to bring up the 50, but after making 27, he chipped a return catch to Hartley, who had Ross Whiteley (0) lbw working to leg with his next delivery.
Cox took advantage of a rare poor delivery and pulled Croft for four.
But, with the run rate climbing above ten an over, Barnard (6) went for a big hit and was caught at deep backward square as Hartley collected his fourth wicket.
Cox smashed Callum Parkinson for six over mid-wicket but in the same over came down the wicket and was bowled for 36 from 30 balls.
Sodhi (14) and Morris (0) were both bowled in successive balls from Mahmood (4-25) to wrap up the game with nine balls to spare.
Given the topsy turvy nature of T20 cricket, there are likely to be more twists and turns before the qualifiers for the knockout stages are decided – with the Rapids very much in the hunt.