Saturday, September 15th, 2018

Rapids Seal Finals Spot In Vitality Blast After Toppling Lightning

Worcestershire Rapids are through to their first Vitality Blast final after defeating Lancashire Lightning by 20 runs in the first semi-final at Edgbaston.

Skipper Moeen Ali’s fine all-round performance, a vital partnership between Ben Cox and Ed Barnard, and another superb bowling display by Pat Brown helped seal victory.

The Rapids totalled 169-6 in their 20 overs after being put into bat and then restricted the Lightning to 149-9.

Worcestershire were given a flying start by Moeen Ali who launched a fierce assault against Lancashire skipper Liam Livingstone.

He picked up four fours and a six over long off in an over costing 23 runs.

Worcestershire lost a flurry of wickets after Moeen was second out with the total on 70 after hitting 41 off 21 deliveries.

They had slipped to 97-6 in the 14th over as spinners Matt Parkinson and Zahir Khan established a grip.

But then Cox and Barnard changed the picture during an unbroken stand of 72 in six overs.

Cox had scored a magnificent century in the Rapids previous semi-final against Kent in the Royal London One-Day Cup in June in front of the TV cameras.

He was in similarly destructive form during the tail-end of the innings, hitting Toby Lester for three sixes in a 19th over costing 27 runs.

Cox ended unbeaten on 55 from 34 balls and, with Barnard (28 not out) also playing a full part, the momentum switched to the Rapids – and their bowlers carried on the good work.

Moeen followed up his excellent hitting by collecting the prized wicket of Jos Buttler – bowled for 12 – in addition to Arron Lilley and finished with 2-16 from his four overs.

Alex Davies and Dane Vilas were also run out by some smart fielding and then Brown bowled a remarkable 19th over in which he picked up three wickets for just one run.

That gave him figures of 4-0-21-4 and took his wicket tally in the Blast this summer to 31.

Moeen Ali said: “I was really confident as long as we bowled well. Pat Brown has been doing that every game. He has got a big heart and wants to bowl the crucial overs.”

Ben Cox said: “I set my stall out to take things to the back end of the innings. I haven’t done well on TV in the past before that century in the semi-final and it is nice to perform on TV and the big stage.”

Pat Brown said: “Ben and Barny’s partnership was crucial and really gave us something to bowl at. It shows our depth as a batting unit.”