Northants Steelbacks were made to rue missed chances as England star Moeen Ali propelled Worcestershire Rapids to a 14-run win at the County Ground on Friday night.
Ali and fellow opener Daryl Mitchell set the tone for the visitors’ highest T20 score on Steelbacks territory.
But it could all have been so different had Rory Kleinveldt taken the opportunities that were presented to him.
The South African dropped Ali, who had not scored at the time, and Mitchell, who was on one when he was handed a reprieve.
Ali went on to smash 90 and Mitchell 43 as the Rapids piled on the runs, making 211 for three from their 20 overs.
It was always unlikely that Northants would be able to come back from that - but they put in a spirited effort with the bat.
Josh Cobb smashed a superb 80 from 44 balls, but his side fell just short on 197 for seven.
It is now three defeats in as many games in the NatWest T20 Blast for David Ripley’s men.
Ali was always going to have a point to prove, returning to the Rapids squad after being left out of England’s one-day side for the upcoming clashes with New Zealand.
But he should have gone early on as Kleinveldt missed a simple slip catch off the bowling of David Willey.
Mitchell also enjoyed an escape off Willey as Kleinveldt failed to take a slightly tougher catch.
And the Steelbacks were made to pay as Ali and Mitchell racked up a partnership of 131 before Mitchell chopped on off Shahid Afridi.
Ali followed as Steven Crook claimed the wicket thanks to a superb catch from Alex Wakely.
Colin Munro went for 17 after holing out to Wakely in the deep, but Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Ross Whiteley carried their team past the 200 mark.
Aside from the loss of Willey for 12, the Steelbacks started strongly, with Richard Levi and Cobb revving the engine.
Levi was giving Saeed Ajmal a pummeling before the Rapids bowler got his revenge, trapping the big-hitting batsman LBW for 42.
Cobb carried on to reach his 50 from 31 balls, giving his team real hope of a victory.
Wakely was bowled by Joe Leach for 19 but that brought Shahid Afridi to the crease, and the Pakistan legend announced his arrival with a couple of quick sixes.
The Steelbacks found themselves needing 41 runs from the final three overs, but Ajmal struck, dismissing Afridi for a quickfire 15.
Cobb hit the next ball for six, but then holed out to Ali, leaving Steelbacks perliously close to defeat.
Kleinveldt went to Jack Shantry for one, and the same bowler dismissed Rob Keogh for two.
The Steelbacks required 27 runs from the final over, but they were to fall short as Edward Barnard ensured the Rapids cruised home.