WORCESTERSHIRE Rapids claimed a comprehensive eight-wicket victory over Derbyshire Falcons in their NatWest T20 Blast clash at New Road.
A superb all-round performance from Moeen Ali kept the Rapids top of the North Group as they reached the half-way stage of the tournament with five wins from seven matches.
The England star picked up three wickets and smashed 65 off just 28 balls as the Rapids made quick-fire work of reaching their 137 target with 7.1 overs to spare after Falcons finished 136-7 on Friday (June 19).
The impressive win completed a successful 24 hours for the Rapids who notched a thrilling victory over Lancashire Lightning from the penultimate ball the night before.
Jack Shantry made the breakthrough when new Derbyshire signing Hanish Rutherford (10) was caught at short mid on by Tom Kohler-Cadmore, and Joe Leach quickly accounted for Chesney Hughes (0) who was caught behind by Ben Cox away to his left.
It became 21-3 when Wes Durston chopped Shantry to short third man and was called for a single by Shiv Thakor (5) who was run out by Leach’s throw to Cox, before Wayne Madsen edged Leach to Kohler-Cadmore at slip.
Moeen was brought into the attack for the ninth over and he immediately enjoyed some success when Scott Elstone (21) fell to an excellent low catch by Ross Whiteley on the cover boundary.
The 28-year-old struck again when opener Wes Durston (29) went for a sweep and was stumped by Cox and Moeen’s third breakthrough came from another sweep by Alex Hughes (22) into the hands of Leach at deep square leg.
Tom Knight (19 not out) and Tom Poynton (27 not out) gave the score-line some respectability adding 45 in 5.5 overs as Moeen finished with figures of 3-28, Leach 2-25 and Shantry 1-36 from four overs each.
Any hopes the Falcons had of making the home side battle to reach their target were quickly blown away by Moeen who had scored 64 of the 73-0 by the end of the powerplay to effectively end the contest, before being caught on the square leg boundary by Rutherford off Chesney Hughes.
Mitchell continued to accumulate in typically effective fashion while Kohler-Cadmore hit a rapid 19 before being bowled by Alex Hughes.
Colin Munro was in no mood to keep the Rapids’ fans waiting as his pair of sixes sealed the win, leaving the New Zealander unbeaten on 22 from nine balls and Mitchell, the county’s leading run-scorer in the T20 Blast this summer, on 33 not out from 30 deliveries.
Man of the match, Moeen said: “It was a brilliant performance. We brought our ‘A’ game to a very good win.
“It would be unbelievable for the club if we got to the finals day but obviously we take just one game at a time and keep trying to win those games.”
Worcestershire’s next T20 opponents will be Northamptonshire Steelbacks on Friday (June 26) at New Road.