Sunday, July 18th, 2021


Worcestershire Rapids fell agonisingly short of a Vitality Blast quarter-final spot after a brilliant hundred by Josh Inglis earned Leicestershire Foxes a seven-wicket win at the Uptonsteel County Ground.

The Rapids needed a victory to seal a place in the knockout stages for the third time in four years.

They posted a competitive looking 169-6 thanks mainly to 35 from Jake Libby and a splendid partnership of 76 in seven overs between Ed Barnard and Ross Whiteley.

Dillon Pennington gave them the perfect start with the ball with two early breakthroughs, and spinner Ish Sodhi bowled a typically tight four over spell.

But they were otherwise unable to stem the flow of boundaries from Inglis bat as he reached a hundred off 55 balls with seven sixes and eight fours.

It was an innings similar to the one played by Jonny Bairstow for Yorkshire Vikings at New Road earlier this season, and Inglis finished unbeaten on 118.

The Rapids have been in contention to qualify for the bulk of the competition but eventually finished in fifth spot with 14 points from 14 games as a result of six wins, six defeats, one tie and one no result.

The Rapids opted to bat on a wicket lacking pace which had been used previously for the Vitality Blast game against Notts Outlaws on Friday evening.

Jack Haynes (7) cover drove Callum Parkinson for the first boundary before being deceived by a slower ball from Naveen-Ul-Haq and holing out to mid-on.

Brett D’Oliveira looked in good touch, cutting Ul-Haq and Parkinson for four and cover driving Colin Ackermann to the ropes.

But, after making a quickfire 20, D’Oliveira lifted a low full toss from Gavin Griffiths into the hands of deep mid-wicket.

Libby worked the ball around effectively for ones, and twos in between, collecting two boundaries in an over from Gavin Griffiths as the Rapids reached 49-2 in the powerplay.

Daryl Mitchell again came in at number four and made 14 before he chipped Parkinson to long-off.

Libby moved onto 35 off 28 deliveries, but then he came down the wicket to a ball slanted across him by Arron Lilley and was stumped.

Captain Ben Cox (10) was unluckily run out when a Ross Whiteley straight drive was deflected onto the stumps at the non-striker’s end by Foxes captain Ackermann.

Ackermann injured his hand in the process and left the field, with Ben Mike having to complete the over.

The Rapids were 91-5 in the 13th over when Barnard joined Whiteley at the wicket, and the pair transformed Worcestershire’s fortunes.

A straight six by Whiteley off Parkinson brought up the 100, and Barnard also cleared the ropes over long-off from a Gavin Griffiths delivery.

The 50 stand came up in 31 balls, and the 19th over from Griffiths yielded 16 runs.

Having made 31 off 24 balls, Whiteley was dismissed in the final over from Ul-Haq to a running catch at deep mid-wicket by Ben Mike.

But Barnard remained undefeated on an excellent 43 from 24 balls with one six and five fours.

The Rapids needed early wickets, and Pennington again delivered in the powerplay.

Ravi Patel (7) fell to a fine catch at short fine leg by Ben Dwarshuis, and then Lilley skied a delivery from the paceman, which found the safe hands of Ish Sodhi at mid-off.

The Foxes stood on 49-2 at the end of the powerplay – the same score as the Rapids.

Inglis produced a series of fine aggressive strokes, although he survived one difficult chance on 14 off Dwarshuis.

Mitchell came into the attack, and the Rapids record T20 wicket-taker struck in his first over as he held onto a return catch from Lewis Hill (2) away to his right.

Inglis reached a 33 ball half-century with three sixes and five fours out of 87-3 in the 11th over.

Sodhi finished with figures of 0-24 from his four overs.

But Inglis continued to find the boundary, although a brilliant piece of fielding in mid-air at full stretch by Brett D’Oliveira denied hit a maximum off Barnard.

He was well supported by Harry Swindells (22 not out) in an unbroken stand of 111 in 10.2 overs as the Foxes won with 13 balls to spare.