Wednesday, June 9th, 2021


Worcestershire Rapids showed tremendous fighting qualities to earn a tie from their opening Vitality Blast encounter with Notts Outlaws at New Road.

The Outlaws appeared to be favourites after reaching 76-0 from six overs in pursuit of a 153 target.

But the Rapids spinning trio of captain Moeen Ali, debutant Ish Sodhi and Brett D’Oliveira brought their side back into strong contention.

They had combined figures of 3-52 from 10 overs, and, backed up by some superb fielding, the game headed into a thrilling climax.

The Outlaws needed five off the final over from Josh Tongue.

Luke Fletcher was run out off the third ball as Tongue kicked the ball onto the stumps.

The final delivery saw Peter Trego turn Tongue onto the legside, but he was run out attempting a second by Ed Barnard’s throw to keeper Ben Cox.

It set the seal on an excellent recovery by the Rapids and brought back memories of the Blast semi-final against the Outlaws, which Worcestershire pulled out of the fire two years ago.

The Rapids overcame a challenging start to their innings on a slowish pitch to reach 152-6 thanks to a half-century from Jake Libby and some big hitting by Ross Whiteley.

Notts put them in to bat, and Riki Wessels collected the first boundary of the innings with a back foot cover drive for four off Samit Patel.

D’Oliveira (5) was stumped down the leg side by Tom Moores off Matt Carter, with 12 on the board in the third over.

There was warm applause for the arrival at the crease of Moeen, and he hit Carter over mid-off for four but in the same over was bowled for six.

Wessels looked in good touch against his former county and straight drove and lofted Dane Paterson over mid-on for boundaries.

After making 14, he was run out by Mullaney’s direct hit from mid-off after attempting a risky single off Dane Paterson.

The initial six-over powerplay produced 38 runs and three wickets.

Libby and Ben Cox looked to rebuild the innings and added 37 before the latter on 14 was caught and bowled by Mullaney.

Libby continued the form he has demonstrated all summer in the LV=Insurance County Championship, and he moved into the 40s when pulling Carter backward of square for four.

A nine-ball over from Luke Fletcher, including three wides, cost ten runs and brought up the 100th in the 15th over.

Whiteley produced the first six of the innings in the 16th over when he flicked Mullaney behind square, and the 50 stand with Libby came up from 39 balls.

The left-hander then clubbed a full toss from Paterson over the ropes in the same region, and Libby reached a composed 50 from 42 balls with his third four off Paterson.

Whiteley had made 42 off 34 balls when he was caught on the cover boundary in the final over from Fletcher after a partnership of 78 in 10 overs with Libby.

There was time for Ed Barnard (10) to hit Fletcher for a six over mid-wicket and a ramp shot for four before he was caught on the boundary from the last ball of the innings.

Clarke and Hales put on 76 in quickfire fashion before both were dismissed in successive overs.

With 31 from 18 balls, Hales fell to the last ball of the powerplay from Charlie Morris when caught by Moeen at long-off.

Sodhi struck in his first over when Clarke, having made 45 from 21 balls, holed out to Dwarshuis at long-on.

It became three wickets in three overs when Ben Duckett (6) was lbw to a delivery from Moeen, which kept low.

Whiteley then produced a superb diving catch at deep mid-wicket to account for Tom Moores after attempting to pull a delivery from Moeen, who finished with excellent figures of 2-15.

Sodhi’s four overs also only cost 27 runs, and there was another breakthrough for the Rapids when Samit Patel (11) failed to beat Charlie Morris’s throw to Cox.

Tongue produced a superb catch to dismiss Mullaney (7), running back to third man off Charlie Morris to set up the thrilling finale.