Friday, June 3rd, 2022

D’OLIVEIRA HITS CAREER BEST AS RAPIDS TRIUMPH OVER BEARS IN NEW ROAD THRILLER

Worcestershire Rapids are celebrating their first victory of the season in the Vitality Blast after Brett D’Oliveira hit a competition best 71 in a 16 run success over local rivals Birmingham Bears at New Road.

The opener struck three sixes, and six fours from just 38 balls as the Rapids amassed 217-5 โ€“ their fifth highest-ever T20 total.

It surpassed D’Oliveira’s previous best Blast score of 69 against Leicestershire at New Road last summer.

He was given superb support by Jack Haynes, with a 22 ball half-century, and Colin Munro after the Bears had put the home side into bat.

Then a three-wicket burst with the new ball by Dillon Pennington had the Bears on the back foot as they slumped to a second defeat in 24 hours.

Josh Baker also picked up two crucial wickets, and there was a first wicket for debutant and West Indies star Dwayne Bravo.

But all the bowlers were backed up by some outstanding ground fielding and catches.

Only Sam Hain looked capable of pulling the game out of the fire as the Bears closed on 202-8.

The Rapids were put in to bat on a hybrid wicket in front of a sold-out New Road.

They made three changes from the side in action against Durham on Wednesday, with captain Moeen Ali, Bravo and Pennington replacing Jake Libby, Charlie Morris and Matthew Waite, whose loan spell with Yorkshire has ended.

D’Oliveira got the Rapids innings off to an explosive start on a hybrid pitch with 20 runs from Paul Stirling’s first over.

He hit the first three balls for four and then straight drove the final delivery for a huge six.

Ed Pollock was equally destructive as he faced his former county for the first time.

He collected three boundaries in the second over from Henry Brookes and smote Carlos Brathwaite for six over mid-wicket as the 50 came up in four overs.

Pollock had made 28 when he went for a pull and off Craig Miles and feathered a catch to keeper Alex Davies.

Moeen received a warm welcome in his first Rapids appearance since last June, and he hammered Danny Briggs for six over long-on before being caught behind for 16 off Brathwaite.

But D’Oliveira galloped to a 29 ball half-century and achieved his career-best score in the T20 tournament before he drilled Jake Lintott to cover.

Munro and Haynes maintained the momentum for the Rapids with a stand of 56 in 4.5 overs.

Munro continued the form which had brought him two half-centuries in his first three appearances with some clean hitting in making 41 from 21 deliveries.

He was eventually caught behind off Brathwaite, but Haynes produced some wonderfully clean hitting in completing a 22 ball half-century with four sixes and four fours.

Stirling seemed determined to make amends for his performance with the ball as he smashed 22 from the first over by Moeen.

But Pennington, restored to the side after two games, swung the game Worcestershire’s way with a three-wicket burst.

He had Jacob Bethell and Stirling caught behind and at short third man, respectively, in his first over.

Then in his next over, Alex Davies aimed a blow over mid-wicket and fell to a superb diving catch by Haynes running back.

Adam Hose and Sam Hain had the responsibility of rebuilding the innings and added 65 in 7.1 overs.

But Baker, the third spinner to be used, broke the stand in his first over with D’Oliveira holding onto an excellent low catch at deep square leg to dismiss Hose.

He then had Chris Benjamin (27) caught behind and Brathwaite (5) was run out by Bravo’s throw to the non striker’s end.

Hain (45) holed out to deep mid-wicket off Ed Barnard, and Bravo’s debut wicket came when he bowled Brookes.