Friday, May 12th, 2017

Rapids Move Closer To Sealing Knockout Spot In One-Day Cup

Rapids Move Closer To Sealing Knockout Spot In One-Day Cup

Worcestershire Rapids moved a step closer to qualifying for the knockout stages of the Royal London One-Day Cup with a superb three wicket win over holders and local rivals Warwickshire at New Road.

The Rapids were required to score 241 in 34 overs under the Duckworth Lewis Method after rain intervened at the end of the Bears innings of 304-5 in 49 overs.

But Joe Clarke's first half century of the domestic season and excellent contributions from Ben Cox, John Hastings and Ross Whiteley saw the Rapids over the finishing line with 13 balls to spare.

It was their fourth win in six group matches.

Now victory against Durham Jets at New Road on Sunday will seal a top three spot for skipper Joe Leach's side.

Ian Bell’s first century for Warwickshire in 13 months was all in vain as his side suffered a sixth defeat in seven group games.

While Bell had many years as a top-drawer batsman for England, 20-year-old Clarke showed glimpses of his ability.

The England Lions batsman put behind him a quiet start to the summer by hitting the first three balls he faced to the boundary and went on to transform the situation after Worcestershire had stumbled to 57 for four in the first nine overs.

While Clarke’s driving was a feature in making 56 from 51 balls, also of prime importance was the innings of Cox who took a chunk out of the New Road stand facia with a six off Ateeq Javid in his dash to 49 from 41 balls.

Jeetan Patel ended a partnership of 81 in 11.3 overs when Cox was lbw, playing across a straight ball.

But the Rapids kept going with three sixes in John Hastings’ 36 and a second maximum for Ross Whiteley (35 not out) in completing a splendid win.

Worcestershire return to second place in the group but Warwickshire are rooted to the bottom.

Young seamer Grant Thornton did his best to keep the Edgbaston team in contention, Clarke among his return of four for 42 when pulling to mid-on.

Bell’s innings was the key factor in what began as a good day for Warwickshire. This was a classy performance from start to finish and fully befitting of a batsman who played in 161 one-day internationals.

After a delayed start, Warwickshire could easily have fallen off course. They lost Jonathan Trott, caught behind off Hastings in the third over, and then Sam Hain was caught and bowled by Ed Barnard after making 34.

Bell contented himself with four boundaries in a steady but hugely valuable half-century. It was Tim Ambrose who first upped the rate, punching 43 from 56 balls in a stand of 82 before popping up a simple catch from a half-checked shot.

This was a first wicket for Brett D’Oliveira and the young leg-spinner soon had a second when Aaron Thomason holed out to Barnard at long-off.

However, Warwickshire quickly turned this into a profit as Rikki Clarke set the ball rolling for a tidal wave which ultimately raised 112 from the last 10 overs and as many as 60 from the last four.

The powerful all-rounder clumped six sixes in an unbeaten 84 from 52 balls and in all put on 126 in 13.5 overs with Bell, who was finally out for 104 (129 balls, nine fours) when driving Hastings straight to Daryl Mitchell at cover.

The rain arrived on cue in the interval but fortunately it did not last as long as some had forecast.

The reduction in overs prompted debate. Some thought it made Worcestershire’s task easier, others felt seven-an-over was tough.

In the event the Rapids ran into early difficulties. Moeen Ali edged Keith Barker’s second delivery, Mitchell chipped Thornton to deep square leg, Tom Kohler-Cadmore was caught behind attempting to pull Thornton and Barker’s return from long leg ran out D’Oliveira attempting a second run.

But then Clarke and Cox's partnership switched the momentum back towards the Rapids – and Hastings and Whiteley did the rest as the Rapids strength in depth came to the fore again.