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|NatWest T20 Blast|
|Dates: 7 July – 2 September|
|Coverage: Ball-by-ball local radio commentary on every match online, tablets, mobiles and BBC Sport app. In-play highlights and live text commentary of selected games on the BBC Sport website. Selected commentaries on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra.|
Worcestershire Rapids kept alive their hopes of qualifying from the T20 Blast North Group with a thrilling five-run win over local rivals Birmingham Bears at Edgbaston.
Opener John Hastings hit the competition’s fastest fifty of the season – off just 19 balls – to help the Rapids to 190-7.
Dom Sibley made 49 on his Bears debut, but New Zealand spinner Mitchell Santner took 3-16 to restrict the hosts to 185-7.
Worcestershire are now five points off a top-four place with five matches remaining, while the defeat ends a four-game winning run for the second-placed Bears.
Elsewhere in the North Group, table-toppers Derbyshire lost by eight runs to East Midlands neighbours Nottinghamshire Outlaws and Durham defended 157 to beat Yorkshire by one run.
In an evening of tight finishes, Lancashire also maintained their chances of going through to the knockout stages with a four-run victory at Leicestershire.
In the South Group, Glamorgan stayed at the top with an impressive six-run win against Surrey at The Oval and Chris Nash’s unbeaten 73 took Sussex to a five-wicket victory against Kent.
Essex Eagles are still bottom despite overcoming Hampshire at Southampton, while Gloucestershire earned a seven-wicket win against Somerset.
Worcestershire’s rapid Powerplay
In front of a raucous crowd in Birmingham, Hastings and fellow opener Joe Clarke (34) were dominant in the first six overs, clearing the ropes eight times.
The Powerplay included five sixes in a row off Colin de Grandhomme and Boyd Rankin as they raced to 83-1 – New Zealand all-rounder De Grandhomme receiving particularly heavy punishment going for 30 off his only over.
Hastings eventually lost his wicket one ball after reaching fifty, swiping Jeetan Patel to Aaron Thomason in the deep, and Worcestershire stumbled in the rest of their innings to 190.
Sibley, who moved from Surrey to Edgbaston on Thursday, set a fine platform for the Bears’ response, but once he was out to a superb diving catch by Santner, the required run-rate climbed and the hosts fell short.
Somerset’s nightmare journey
Bristol is just 45 miles from Taunton, which normally means hopping on the coach and perhaps allowing an hour and a half for Friday traffic.
However, an accident on the M5 motorway saw Somerset’s trip to Gloucestershire’s Brightside Ground take more than four hours – delaying the start by 45 minutes.
If the players thought things could not get any worse, the visitors slumped to 96-8 before Craig Overton’s unbeaten 33 helped them make 146 all out.
Ian Cockbain’s 47 not out then took the hosts home with 10 balls to spare to leave them second in the South Group.
At least the Somerset team had a bit of fun in the tailbacks…
Mixed fortunes for England men
It was an indifferent evening for England players past and present, with former limited-overs captain Paul Collingwood continuing his fine form for Durham.
The 41-year-old struck an unbeaten 88 off 54 balls, just five days after hitting his maiden T20 century.
All-rounder David Willey enjoyed a decent evening with both bat and ball, taking 2-23 and then making 40, but could not save Yorkshire from defeat at Chester-le-Street.
Surrey and England opener Jason Roy’s difficult campaign continued – the 27-year-old was out first ball to Lukas Carey in their defeat by Glamorgan. He has just one fifty in seven T20 Blast innings this year.
Roy’s opening partner for the national side, Alex Hales, was out for just seven for Notts, while Sam Billings hit five sixes in his 74 for Kent.
Limited-overs wicketkeeper Jos Buttler made his third half-century in the tournament with 57 in Lancashire’s tight victory at Leicestershire. The former Somerset man is now averaging more than 45 in domestic T20 cricket this summer.
Who do you think will win this season’s T20 Blast?
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