Worcestershire Rapids all-rounder Mitchell Santner highlighted the importance of taking wickets during the Vitality Blast powerplays after crucial contributions from Dillon Pennington and Pat Brown in the win over Lancashire Lightning at New Road.
Pennington bowled three successive overs after the Lightning opted to bat and to concede only 17 runs during that period and pick up the wicket of Phil Salt was a superb effort.
Brown sent down the sixth and final over of the powerplay and dismissed Dane Vilas and Daryl Mitchell with successive balls.
It reduced the Lightning to 38-4 and, although they partially recovered to 164-8, they had to be restrained in their approach after losing so many early wickets and the Rapids reached their target with 14 balls to spare.
The Rapids are now lying in third spot with 12 points from 10 matches, the same as Lightning and Yorkshire Vikings, but they have a game in hand.
Santner, who picked up 2-19 in his four overs and hit a rapid 49 batting at number three, said: “We are seeing that wickets are the best way to slow the runs down.
“Pat might go for a few runs at times but he does bowl at the end as well and wickets in the powerplay are very important.
“It was a crucial job he did to get Daryl Mitchell out first ball, someone who is in some serious good form.
“Those guys in the middle can’t go too hard if you have lost a few wickets early on.
“We’ve seen how some of these wickets are pretty flat and guys are getting 60-70 in the powerplay. To get poles to slow them down is the only way.”
Santner says Pennington’s extended part in the powerplay gives additional options later in the innings.
He said: “Dillon bowled extremely well in the powerplay. It is never easy bowling three overs then and he did an exceptional job.
“It is always a gamble, a seamer bowling a third over in the powerplay. We’ve seen that the third over can go for a few.
“But he’s done it a few times already this year and done it extremely well.
“It gives us options as well if he does that. We can hold the spin back a bit and hold Pat Brown back for a couple more at the end, or a couple of seamers overs in the middle.
“When that is going well, it is good for us.”
The Rapids gained revenge for losing to Lancashire at Blackpool when they looked in control.
Santner, said: “We knows Lancashire are a very good team who bat all the way down so it was nice to win against them. It is a very tight table at the moment so every win counts.
“It didn’t look easy early and it did a little for the seamers. Jos Buttler played extremely well to get them up to 160 but we thought it was definitely a chaseable score and we got ahead of the game early which was nice.
“Our batting at the moment, different guys are stepping up on different days. Dolly (Brett D’Oliveira) has done it a few times and nice to see Jack (Haynes) do it today.
“Myself, it is nice to be up the order, hitting a few more balls. With the ball, it has been a bit of a slow start for myself.
“But I don’t want to be peaking too early and by the back end of the tournament it will be good!”