Brett D’Oliveira’s excellent half-century proved in vain as Worcestershire Rapids were beaten by 16 runs in the Vitality Blast derby at Edgbaston against Birmingham Bears who retained the Norman Gifford Trophy.
The Bears totalled a challenging 179-6 in their 20 overs on a fresh hybrid pitch with Rapids captain Ed Barnard again producing a fine spell with the ball and Sam Hain top-scoring for the home side.
Hamish Rutherford gave the Rapids a flying start to their reply, once again, before D’Oliveira struck a 31 ball fifty – his first of the summer in the Vitality Blast tournament.
The Rapids were up with the required run rate for the majority of their innings, but they could not quite cross the finishing line after some tight Bears bowling and excellent fielding and finished on 163-8.
The Rapids made one change from the side which had beaten Northamptonshire Steelbacks on Tuesday evening, with Adam Finch replacing fellow paceman Dillon Pennington.
Birmingham skipper Will Rhodes opted to bat after winning the toss, and opener Rob Yates hit a quickfire 37 before he lofted Finch straight to Rapids Vitality Blast captain Ed Barnard at mid-off.
Pat Brown bowled two tight overs in the powerplay, conceding just 12 runs, as the Bears totalled 50-1 from their initial six overs.
Barnard came into the attack and immediately made an impact as Adam Hose, having made 14 off 19 balls, holed out to Ross Whiteley moving around to his left from deep mid-wicket.
D’Oliveira’s leg-spin brought about a similar dismissal in his first over as Rhodes (13) picked out Whiteley who again showed a safe pair of hands at deep mid-wicket.
It became three wickets in three overs for the Rapids as Michael Burgess (0) was undone by a Barnard delivery which stopped in the wicket and Daryl Mitchell pulled off a fine low catch diving forward at cover.
Dan Mousley and Sam Hain then upped the tempo for the Bears during a partnership of 80 in nine overs before the former, on 40, sliced a Morris full toss to Jack Haynes at third man.
Barnard again finished with excellent figures of 4-0-20-2 after his 2-15 in four overs at Wantage Road.
Hain completed a half-century off 30 balls with seven fours, but his knock was ended in the final over from Brown on 61 as keeper Ben Cox pulled off a fine catch away to his left.
Rutherford launched the Rapids reply spectacularly with a cover drive to the boundary in Tim Bresnan’s first over and pulls for six over long-on and mid-wicket.
Haynes was also quickly into his stride with three fours in the space of four deliveries from Mousley as the Rapids plundered 29 off the first two overs.
The England Under-19 player was bowled for 14 after aiming a blow over the leg side against spinner Jeetan Patel.
Jake Libby (0) fell to a catch by sub Dominic Sibley at backward point off Olly Stone with 39 on the board.
Rutherford hit a third six over long-on off Patel as the Rapids 50 came up in precisely five overs.
The New Zealander again cleared the ropes with a massive blow over fine leg off Stone and then a top edge over the wicket-keeper off the same bowler.
The Rapids stood on 63-2 after the powerplay.
Rutherford made 45 off 22 balls with five sixes to take his tally to 15 in the tournament before he was caught at deep mid-wicket in spinner Jake Lintott’s first over.
D’Oliveira helped a Rhodes full toss on its way around the corner for six over fine leg in an over which cost 16 runs.
Cox (3) tried to get D’Oliveira back on strike but was run out by Lintott’s direct hit from mid-on attempting a quick single off Stone.
D’Oliveira brought the Rapids 100 up with a superb straight drive for four off Lintott in 10.1 overs.
The Rapids were keeping up with the required scoring rate but lost a fifth wicket when Ross Whiteley (12) was lbw to a full-length Henry Brookes delivery.
D’Oliveira brought up an excellent half-century with one six and six fours before Barnard (11) was caught and bowled by Bresnan off a top edge.
He went onto make 61 from 40 balls with one six and seven fours before edging Brookes through to keeper Burgess in the 18th over and then Mitchell (5) was bowled by the returning Stone.