WORCESTERSHIRE Rapids’ surge towards the T20 Blast quarter-finals continued with a convincing win against Midlands rivals Birmingham Bears on Friday.
The New Road side recorded a sixth straight win in the competition as they strolled to a comfortable eight-wicket victory in front of a sell-out crowd.
On a glorious sunny evening, Worcestershire cruised to their target of 134 with more than five overs to spare after restricting the visitors to 133-8 during the first part of the contest.
Daryl Mitchell continued his excellent season so far with the bat scoring 62 not out and was supported brilliantly by New Zealand star Colin Munro who made an unbeaten 39.
The win kept Worcestershire sitting pretty at the top of North Division with six wins from eight games played and more importantly five points clear of fifth placed side Yorkshire.
But all the good work was done with the ball as Worcestershire’s bowlers restricted their rivals to a rather low total despite possessing a strong batting order with international flavour.
After winning the toss and putting Birmingham into bat, Worcestershire made early inroads with Jack Shantry dismissing both openers Varun Chopra (5) and William Porterfield (14) inside the first five overs.
The early losses saw Birmingham have to rebuild and in international stars such as Shoaib Malik and Jonathan Trott they did just that. Trott, playing his second game back from a stress related illness, nurdled the ball around for ones and twos while Malik hit two fours and three sixes in an innings which put the visitors back into the match.
The pair shared a useful third wicket partnership of 83 before Malik was caught by Richard Whiteley off the bowling of Colin Munro for a well constructed 50 in the 16th over.
The loss of Malik led to a collapse as Birmingham could only add a further 25 runs to their score from the remaining four overs and lost five more wickets in the process.
Trott’s anchor type knock, which saw him hit only one boundary, came to an end when he found Saeed Ajmal at long-on off the bowling of Chris Russell for 39.
The next over saw Shantry take his third wicket when he dismissed Rikki Clarke for just 5.
And for the second T20 game running, just like in their win against Derbyshire, three wickets came of Russell’s final over. Chris Woakes (2) was run out when aiming for a second run before the pace bowler dismissed Laurie Evans and Ateeq Javid with the penultimate ball of the innings. Russell now has 16 wickets to his name in the competition.
Worcestershire’s chase of 134 started badly when Richard Oliver dragged on to his stumps in just the fourth ball of the opening over bowled by Malik.
But Mitchell and Tom Kohler Cadmore took the game away from Birmingham with an aggressive stand of 70. Kohler-Cadmore falling for 25 with a catch on the boundary off the bowling of Woakes.
And New Zealand star Munro and Mitchell did the rest completing the win in the 15th over.
Picture courtesy of Ian Smith.