Worcestershire Rapids launched their defence of the Vitality Blast in impressive fashion with a 28 run success over Notts Outlaws at Trent Bridge this evening.
Sky Sports viewers witnessed a superb all-round performance from Ed Barnard and a deadly spell of four wickets for five runs in 11 balls from Rapids captain Moeen Ali.
On a used wicket which was not straightforward for batting, Barnard lifted the Rapids to an above par total of 161-6 by striking his T20 career best score of 42 not out from 19 balls with some improvised strokeplay.
Ben Cox provided crucial support in an unbroken stand of 59 from just 30 balls.
When Notts batted, Barnard then picked up the prized wicket of Notts dangerman Alex Hales for 52 and produced a stunning catch in the deep to dismiss Jake Libby.
It was the first of Moeen’s four dismissals and he cleaned up the middle-lower order to follow his 32 with the bat as Notts were restricted to 133-9.
Pat Brown (2-24 in four overs), fit again Wayne Parnell (1-26 in four) and Dillon Pennington (1-19 in three) also played their part with the ball backed up by some superb fielding and catching.
Worcestershire omitted Daryl Mitchell and Adam Finch from the selected squad of 13 and handed a Blast debut to Riki Wessels against his former club.
The Rapids opted to bat after winning the toss and opening the bowling for the Outlaws was Luke Wood who was part of the Rapids Blast winning side last summer.
Wessels got the innings off to a positive start with two boundaries in the first over from Wood and he made 24 out of 31 before he skied Harry Gurney’s first delivery to Jake Ball at fine leg up inside the circle.
Martin Guptill stroked his first delivery from Ball back down the ground to the boundary but Callum Ferguson (5) was bowled via the inside edge by Ball off the last ball of the powerplay with the total 41-2.
Guptill hit the Rapids first six in the Blast of 2019 off Matt Carter over mid wicket and captain Moeen repeated the shot at the expense of Samit Patel.
The Rapids had moved onto 78-2 by the half-way stage.
Guptill advanced to 27 off 24 balls when he was caught and bowled by Wood off a low full toss.
Brett D’Oliveira (2) was undone by a slower ball from Harry Gurney after looking to work to leg and the ball popped up to extra cover.
Moeen looked in good touch but after making 32 from 25 deliveries top edged Patel into the hands of Ball on the square leg boundary.
Ross Whiteley (3) departed in a similar fashion in Patel’s final over at 102-6.
But Barnard gave the innings late acceleration, beginning with two boundaries in an over from Wood.
He then lifted Gurney over wide long on for six and scooped the next delivery over the keeper for four.
The England Lions all-rounder made room in the final over to hoist Ball over mid off and also swat the last delivery to the ropes.
He ended unbeaten on 42 from just 19 deliveries – his career best score in T20 cricket – and Cox (21 not out from 19 balls) was the perfect foil.
Pennington took the new ball for the Rapids and he struck the first blow in his second over with former
Worcestershire batsman Joe Clarke (5) drilling a widish ball to Whiteley at cover with eight on the board.
It became 16-2 when Brown came into the attack for the fourth over and Ben Duckett (2) also holed out to cover, this time to Wessels.
The Outlaws were kept in check as Moeen cleverly mixed up his attack and at the half way stage stood on 61-2 from 10 overs with Alex Hales unbeaten on 32.
Hales went on the offensive and struck D’Oliveira for two sixes over mid wicket in the 11th over.
He reached his half century off 32 balls but that man Barnard brought about his downfall.
Hales (52) made room to try to hit Hales over cover and was bowled by a knuckle ball with the total 85-3 in the 13th over.
Barnard then produced a magnificent piece of fielding which brought about the downfall of Jake Libby (24).
He lofted Moeen over the in field but Barnard ran round to deep extra cover to take a magnificent diving catch at full length.
It became 90-5 in the same over when Notts captain Dan Christian (0) inside edged a delivery onto his pad and Cox took a razor sharp reaction catch.
Moeen collected a third wicket in his final over as Patel (6) only picked out Barnard at long off where this time he took a more straightforward catch.
Tom Moores (11) sliced Moeen to Pennington at deep cover and Parnell and Brown both picked up further wickets in the closing stages of a comprehensive victory.