WORCESTERSHIRE Rapids were narrowly beaten in a thrilling NatWest T20 Blast clash with Nottinghamshire Outlaws at a packed sun-drenched New Road.
The Outlaws score of 169 for five was just about enough to hold off a dogged Rapids side who were bowled out for 158 on Sunday (June 7), leaving the county in sixth place with two wins and two loses in the North Group of the competition.
The Outlaws were put into bat and Jack Shantry struck two blows in the opening over, with Riki Wessels being caught at mid off by skipper Daryl Mitchell, while Alex Hales fell to a superb catch by keeper Ben Cox in front of first slip in the very next delivery.
The Outlaws’ third-wicket pair of Brendan Taylor and Steven Mullaney clawed their way back into the contest adding 57 in six overs, but the spin duo of Saeed Ajmal and Moeen Ali struck in successive overs to reduce them to 64-4.
Taylor was caught on the mid wicket boundary by Colin Munro off Ajmal and Mullaney was on the end of a superb one-handed catch at mid wicket by Mitchell from Moeen’s bowling.
The innings had to be rebuilt for a second time and James Taylor (35 not out) proved to be the much-needed anchor, sharing partnerships of 55 in eight overs with Samit Patel and 50 in 4.3 overs with Darren Sammy (35 not out).
Joe Leach, who conceded only 21 runs in his four overs, accounted for Patel who was caught at long off by Tom Kohler-Cadmore but Sammy demonstrated the type of explosive hitting which has become his trademark for the West Indies, as he struck four sixes to give the Rapids something to chase.
The Rapids replied with Moeen, who hit 90 off 50 balls against the Northamptonshire Steelbacks the previous Friday (June 5), and Mitchell continuing in the same vein.
They put on 34 runs off the first three overs, before Mitchell was caught at short cover by Wessels.
Richard Oliver top-edged new Outlaws signing Ben Hilfenhaus to Sam Wood at point as the Rapids reached 58-2 at the end of the powerplay, before Patel’s introduction into the attack brought its rewards as Moeen was adjudged lbw, Munro was caught at long on and Ben Cox was also given lbw.
Wickets fell steadily but Ross Whiteley kept the Rapids in contention with a late fireworks display of four sixes in making 36 off 18 balls after the dismissal of Kohler-Cadmore, Ed Barnard (10) and Joe Leach left them on 117-8 from 17 overs.
He was finally bowled in the penultimate over by Harry Gurney and despite a final flourish from Shantry, the Rapids were dismissed with four balls remaining, falling short by just 11 runs.
The Rapids’ next outing in the T20 Blast will be away to Durham Jets on Friday (June 12) from 7pm.