A half-century from Daryl Mitchell, following a disciplined performance with the ball, guided Worcestershire to their first win of the Natwest T20 Blast season, with the Leicestershire Foxes on the wrong end of a fine captain’s display at New Road.
Chasing 148 for victory, the Rapids’ chase began in sedate fashion with Neil Pinner and Ben Raine opening the bowling with guile and poise to concede just 13 from the first two overs. It was Rob Taylor, impressive in Leicestershire’s Thursday night victory over Durham, who took the first scalp, however, as Richard Oliver hit straight to Tom Wells at mid-off.
Taylor’s next over proved far more costly with 16 runs to close the powerplay, but a lack of boundaries threatened to derail the home side’s effort once Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Colin Munro followed Oliver back to the sidelines.
Jigar Naik, as he has so often in T20s for Leicestershire, impressed in the middle overs alongside Irishman Kevin O’Brien, but once four boundaries were struck within five deliveries, just 35 were needed from the last five overs.
The Foxes were not done there, however, as Mitchell, who had played a canny hand in making 58 from 47 balls, was caught behind off Taylor, but Ben Cox (30*) and three sixes in an 11-ball 26 from Ross Whiteley got the hosts to the finishing mark with six wickets remaining.
Mitchell’s half-century, his fourth in the format, completed a strong all-round display from the Worcestershire captain, who had earlier gone for just 13 runs from his four overs with the ball. Not celebrated for his bowling, the 31-year-old bowled with control and unerring accuracy – even bowling the tricky 18th over – as the hosts limited Leicestershire after an electric start.
As has often been the case, Mark Cosgrove was instrumental at the top, helping his side take 11 from the first over with Jack Shantry uncharacteristically bowling without full control after his skipper had elected to field first.
The quick pace was not to last for the visitors, however, with Joe Leach delivering an excellent second over to concede just one run, with the pressure taking its toll on Ned Eckersley – blasting the first ball of Shantry’s second set to Kohler-Cadmore at midwicket. In Cosgrove and Kevin O’Brien, Leicestershire boast two of T20s most aggressive personnel, and the pair bore testament that claim to finish the powerplay on 56/2, with O’Brien hitting a four and a six – a monster maximum at that – before being trapped lbw to Ed Barnard.
Whilst the run rate was in the Foxes favour, regular wickets proved a hindrance with the fourth falling before the eighth over was out, with Basil D’Oliveira forcing Ben Raine to sky to Whiteley before D’Oliveira turned catcher for Sachithra Senayake, with dangerman Cosgrove (27)the man out having earlier been dropped by Colin Munro.
With Grant Elliott and Niall O’Brien now in, hope was far from lost for Leicestershire, although Mitchell and Senanayake stole the show to limit Cosgrove’s side to 147/6, not enough for a third win of the season in the North group.