Worcestershire Rapids turned current form on its head by beating arch-rivals Birmingham Bears by five runs in the NatWest T20 Blast at Edgbaston.
In front of a bumper crowd of 15,113 (a record for a Bears home T20 group game) the Rapids totalled a meaty 190 for seven, built on a lightning start supplied by openers John Hastings (51 from 20 balls) and Joe Clarke (34 from 15).
That target proved too much for the Bears who ended on 185 for seven, their challenge undermined by the excellent spin of Mitchell Santner (4-0-16-3), despite resistance from debutant Dominic Sibley (49, 34 balls) and Grant Elliott (38, 25).
Put in, the Rapids made a seriously rapid start as Hastings and Clarke thrashed 75 in 28 balls. At one stage, five successive balls – three from Colin de Grandhomme in an over that cost 30 and two from Boyd Rankin – were lifted for six.
Hastings hit four fours and five sixes and Clarke clubbed two fours and four sixes before both perished to calm catches by Aaron Thomason at deep mid-wicket.
A brake was applied by the spin of Sibley. The new signing from Surrey delivered 4-0-20-1, collecting his first Bears wicket when Santner was well-caught by Jeetan Patel at long on.
The innings lost momentum in the middle but gathered impetus again later thanks to the improvisation of Brett D’Oliveira who made an unbeaten 35 (24 balls).
Birmingham also started briskly but were pegged back by tandem spin. The fifth over, from Santner, cost just one run and brought the wicket of Ian Bell, caught at short third man. Santner then added the wicket of Sam Hain, stumped, in his next over before Adam Hose fired a fierce return catch back to D’Oliveira.
Sibley was within a single of a debut half-century when he skied Mitchell to Santner at long on. The Bears’ were running out of potential match-winners and another one disappeared when Elliott reverse-swept Santner to short third man.
De Grandhomme thumped two sixes on his way to 23 from 12 balls but after he was superbly caught by Ed Barnard on the point boundary off Joe Leach, the Bears’ challenge subsided – and the Rapids’ qualification push was well and truly rebooted.