Head Coach Alan Richardson was delighted with the “exceptional and professional” performance produced by Worcestershire Rapids in winning by six wickets in the Vitality Blast encounter with Leicestershire Foxes at the Uptonsteel County Ground.
Usama Mir’s T20 career best figures of 4-22, plus fine support from fellow spinners, captain Brett D’Oliveira and Mitchell Santner, was largely responsible for the Foxes being bowled out for 112.
D’Oliveira completed an excellent all-round performance with an unbeaten half century to steer the Rapids to a fifth win of the campaign and keep them in contention for a top four spot and qualification for the quarter-finals.
Richardson said: “It is always good to get a result but I thought the performance was exceptional and very professional throughout.
“We’ve talked quite a bit about momentum so far in this tournament, and we’ve had it going the right way, and then we’ve had to battle to get it back so it was nice to get a win.
“What was the message coming into the game? Despite the results recently going against us, performance-wise we haven’t been far away.
“As we know in T20 cricket it can be fine margins and the message was continue to do the things that we’ve done really well.
“It was to try and be as attacking as we can in the field and with the ball and show some intent with the bat.
“I think just a few results shouldn’t change how you go about that but it can be quite difficult, it can be a little bit about confidence but the boys have been fantastic, they’ve maintained that throughout and know if they put in performances, they will have chances of winning games.”
The Foxes reached 66-1 after seven overs but then lost nine wickets for 46 runs, seven of them to the spin threat posed by Usama, D’Oliveira and Santner.
Richardson said: “I thought Leicestershire played really well in the powerplay, 56-1 after six overs, they showed that intent. I don’t think we bowled particularly badly.
“But we then took charge of the game with the spinners. I thought Usama again was excellent. He carries that bit of mystery for us and that wicket-taking threat.
“Dolly and Mitchell also bowled with great control and threatened as well which gave us a stranglehold on the game and the opportunity not to chase such a big target.”
Usama continued the fine form he has shown since linking up with the Rapids for the opening three Blast games and then for the remaining seven matches.
Richardson said: “It seems like we are a really good match! He is really enjoying it. He consistently has a smile on his face, absolutely loves his cricket.
“We knew he was very passionate about the game before he even arrived. He has shown an amazing amount of skill with the bat and the ball and has had huge impacts in the games we have played. We are very lucky to have him on our side.”
D’Oliveira showed the form which has led to him being chosen as the Rapids T20 Player Of The Year for the past two seasons.
Richardson said: “He is incredibly modest but what we always see with him is that he puts his heart and soul into it.
“He shows real high levels of skill in everything. In the field, he is exemplary, leads by example. With the ball, in T20 cricket his figures stack up brilliantly well because he is very effective. He has got a great cricket brain and is a very skilful bowler.
“With the bat, he has shown he can bat anywhere in that top order and he has really made that opening spot his own over the last couple of years and has helped us win games of cricket.
“He should take great pride in his performance today, not only just as a player but also how he led the boys as well.”
The biggest concern for Worcestershire after bowling so well was whether they could seal victory before the downpour which ultimately arrived minutes after the game was completed.
Richardson said: “Myself and Brett said at the start of the day that, whatever happens, we won’t speak about the weather.
“But the boys knew there was some around and, as a batting group, it was important we stayed a decent amount ahead of Duckworth-Lewis in case the rain did come.
“It was nice to have that little bit of a buffer ahead of us and the boys managed it really well.”