Friday, July 15th, 2016

Whiteley Hitting Helps Rapids Topple Bears And Keep Quarter-Final Hopes Alive

Whiteley Hitting Helps Rapids Topple Bears And Keep Quarter-Final Hopes Alive

Worcestershire Rapids kept alive their hopes of reaching the NatWest T20 quarter-finals with a thrilling five wicket victory over local rivals Birmingham Bears.

Some explosive hitting from Ross Whiteley – an unbeaten 42 off 20 balls – put the icing on a memorable comeback with ball and bat for the Rapids who completed a double over their neighbours.

He showed the form which brought him 29 sixes last season in the T20 Blast in smoting four sixes and three fours.

Now the Rapids must defeat Derbyshire Falcons in their final North Group fixture next Friday and hope other results go their way if they are to reach a fourth quarter-final in five years.

Birmingham looked set for an imposing total after reaching 129-1 in the 13th over.

But spinner George Rhodes, in only his second T20 Blast appearance, picked up three wickets in an over on his way to final figures of 4-13 from three overs.

Then Matt Henry collected two wickets in the final over of his current spell at New Road to end with 3-15 as the Bears were bowled out for 164 in 19.3 overs.

After the loss of three quick wickets, skipper Daryl Mitchell and Brett D'Oliveira put together a fine partnership of 76 in nine overs which laid the foundations for the late Whiteley assault with good support from Ben Cox.

The Rapids thus ended a run of five successive defeats in the competition.

Worcestershire lost three wickets inside the first four overs.

Tom Kohler-Cadmore (4) clipped Rikki Clarke into the hands of deep mid wicket, Joe Clarke (10) played on to Oliver Hannon-Dalby and Joe Leach (3) sliced Recordo Gordon to backward point.

D'Oliveira, who this week earned his first England Lions call-up, and Mitchell played sensibly to repair the damage as their half century stand came up in seven overs.

The Rapids needed 95 off the final 10 overs and Mitchell targeted the first over from Aaron Thomason to increase the tempo, striking two sixes as the all-rounder conceded 19 overs.

The return to the attack of Clarke ended a stand worth 76 in nine overs as D'Oliveira (28) skied a catch to Josh Poysden at backward square leg.

Mitchell reached his half-century off 29 balls with two sixes and four fours before Clarke brought about his downfall on 61 as he drilled a catch to Sam Hain at mid off.

But then Whiteley moved into overdrive with support from Ben Cox to turn the game in the Rapids favour.

He smashed Recordo Gordon for successive sixes over long on and backward point in a 17th over costing 18 runs.

Then Cox drove the second ball of the final over from Hannon-Dalby through the covers for four to settle the issue in front of a sell-out crowd approaching 5,000.

Birmingham appeared to be heading for a score in excess of 200 after reaching 120-1 in the 12th over.

But a dramatic collapse saw nine wickets fall for just 35 runs. Australian wicket-keeper Matthew Wade led the initial onslaught for the visitors in his second T20 appearance for the Bears.

He raced to a half century off just 23 balls with the aid of three successive sixes over long on off spinner D'Oliveira.

Wade and Sam Hain added 103 in nine overs for the second wicket.

But the Rapids struck back once Wade, having made 74 off 32 deliveries, was caught by Rhodes at long-on off Ed Barnard.

Rhodes then came into the attack and in his second over picked up three wickets as Laurie Evans (8), Hain (46) and Clarke (1) all perished to the off spinner.

Ateeq Javid (6) was run out attempting a second run in the next over from Rhodes before Mitchell pulled off a fine one-handed catch at mid wicket to account for Jeetan Patel (0).

Henry fittingly polished off the innings with two wickets in his final over of his current spell at New Road.