Moeen Ali’s scintillating century against Birmingham Bears at Edgbaston lifted Worcestershire Rapids to a 15-run Vitality Blast victory which booked them a home tie in the quarter-finals.
Former Bears batsman Moeen smashed his maiden T20 ton – 115 from 56 balls with 12 fours and seven sixes – to lift the Rapids to 209 for five. It was the England player’s second white-ball century on his old home ground this season following his 114 in the Royal London Cup in June, the two innings together bringing 229 runs from 131 balls with 24 fours and 12 sixes.
Birmingham’s reply lacked the major contribution it needed, no-one reaching 50, as the Bears fell short on 194 for seven and exited the tournament at the group stage.
Put in, in front of a 14, 895 crowd, the Rapids charged to 64 without loss in six overs as Moeen set about unfurling a batting masterclass. He added 80 in 49 balls with Joe Clarke (32, 25 balls) then hit overdrive in a stand of 74 in 38 balls which Callum Ferguson whose contribution was just 13.
Moeen finally fell in the 17th over, stumped off leg-spinner Josh Poysden who was the only Birmingham bowler to enjoy any success. Poysden, who will begin a three-year contract with Yorkshire at the end of this season, ended with three for 41 after also dismissing Clarke and Ferguson, both bowled by turning deliveries.
Ben Cox’s perky 16-ball 27 saw the Rapids past 200 and ensured a tall target for Birmingham but the Bears’ reply was briskly launched by a stand of 55 in 29 balls between Ed Pollock (36, 18 balls, three fours, three sixes) and Ian Bell. But both then fell within six balls as Wayne Parnell uprooted Bell’s middle-stump and Pollock edged Pat Brown behind, supplying the 19-year-old with his 26th wicket of the Blast campaign. Number 27 followed when Adam Hose, having moved dangerously to 45 (29 balls, one four, two sixes), was bowled by a slower ball.
With the pressure rising, and 55 needed from four overs, the Bears’ main hope was a salvo from Colin de Grandhomme but on 31 (20 balls) the Black Caps star lifted Parnell to long off. When Parnell trapped Grant Elliott (29, 16 balls) with the last ball of the penultimate over, 20 were needed from the last. Brown, arguably the bowler of the tournament group stage nationally, delivered the final over with superb composure to finish with an impressive 4-0-23-2.