Captain Moeen Ali impressed with bat and ball as Worcestershire Rapids celebrated their first victory in this summer’s Vitality Blast after defeating Northamptonshire Steelbacks by 32 runs at Wantage Road.
Moeen hit a half-century, picked up two wickets and was involved in a run-out as the Rapids followed up their dramatic share of the spoils in their opening game against Notts Outlaws with an excellent all-round performance.
They totalled 185-7 in their 20 overs, thanks mainly to a fine second-wicket stand of 94 in 8.5 overs from Moeen and Brett D’Oliveira and some late hitting by Ben Cox.
The Rapids then picked up crucial wickets in the Steelbacks powerplay, including two for Charlie Morris, to check their progress after using an all-pace attack during that period.
Some stunning fielding again backed them up, with D’Oliveira and Ross Whiteley producing catches of the highest standard.
Rapids spinners Moeen and Ish Sodhi then maintained a grip on proceedings with combined figures of 3-43 from their eight overs as the Steelbacks closed on 153-9.
The Rapids were unchanged from that memorable game against the Outlaws and were put in to bat.
Riki Wessels (8) collected the first four with a leg glance off Ben Sanderson but was bowled through the gate off the next delivery.
Moeen was soon into his stride and hit former Worcestershire team-mate, Wayne Parnell, on the up through the covers for four and cut Brandon Glover to the ropes.
The Rapids reached a solid 36-1 in the six-over powerplay.
D’Oliveira made a steady start in a support role to Moeen but then launched Graeme White for a six over long-on and produced a similar shot in the next over from Tom Taylor.
Runs started to flow freely, and Moeen hit two sixes in an over from Parnell, costing 18 runs via a pull to wide mid-on and a top edge to third man.
The 50 partnership came up from 37 balls, and the Rapids reached 96-1 by the halfway stage after smashing 60 runs in a four-over spell.
Moeen completed an excellent half-century from 28 balls with his fourth six – off White over mid-wicket – but he was dismissed in the same over with Saif Zaib taking the catch at long-on.
D’Oliveira moved onto 43 from 34 balls before he was caught behind off Tom Taylor.
Whiteley, promoted to number four, was content to play himself in before moving into overdrive with sixes off Taylor and White as the 150 came up in the 17th over.
Jake Libby (12) was bowled by a leg-stump yorker from Taylor, and in the same over, Whiteley (23) picked out Ricardo Vasconcelos at deep mid-wicket.
Cox provided the innings with some late acceleration with a six and a four in Parnell’s fourth over.
Ed Barnard (2) picked out long-on in the final over from Sanderson, but Cox took his tally to 26 from just ten balls with three more fours before he was caught at mid-wicket.
Josh Tongue opened the bowling for the Rapids and struck with his first delivery.
Levi (0) hit the ball with plenty of power but straight in the direction of D’OIiveira, who held onto a superb reflex catch at backward point.
Then another magnificent catch by Whiteley led to the downfall of Ricardo Vasconcelos (1).
He lofted a delivery from Charlie Morris towards deep mid-wicket, but Whiteley charged in to take a full-length diving catch.
Cobb looked in good touch, but after making 29 off 11 balls, he became the second scalp of Morris, with Sodhi taking a comfortable catch at mid-on.
The Rapids used an all-pace attack during the powerplay, which ended with the total on 52-3.
Sodhi struck with his first delivery as Adam Rossington (22) was bowled, attempting to sweep the New Zealand international.
He bowled in tandem with Moeen, who enjoyed success when Parnell (11) went for a big heave and was stumped by Cox.
Moeen enjoyed a second success in his final over as Rob Keogh (26) picked out the safe hands of Dwarshuis at deep mid-wicket.
The England all-rounder finished with 2-21 from his four overs to follow his 2-15 versus the Outlaws.
Sodhi was equally impressive with 1-22, and in his last over, Tom Taylor (3) was run out by Moeen’s throw from backward point to Cox after being sent back.
Barnard’s accurate throw from the deep back to Cox meant Saif Zaib (6) departed in the same manner after attempting a second run.
Dwarshuis picked up his first wicket when White (7) carved a delivery to Whiteley at deep point in the penultimate.