Under beautiful sunshine in Derby today, the Falcons played their second Vitality Blast match and suffered their second defeat. Worcestershire Rapids, defeating their hosts by six wickets, maintained their perfect start to the competition and thus remain on top of the North group table.
At the half way stage of the match, the general consensus was that Derbyshire had set a well below par total of 135 for 9. At the end of the Worcestershire powerplay, however, it did not look so clear cut. Worcestershire had reached 42 for the loss of two wickets, the usually fluent Martin Guptill had only managed 13 off 22 balls, and the destructive Callum Ferguson and stylish Joe Clarke were back in the pavilion.
It was similar picture to the Derbyshire powerplay, with the Falcons making 30 for 3 in their six overs of fielding restrictions and Critchley, Callum MacLeod and Wayne Madsen all out for the home side.
This is where the similarities in the innings ended, though. Derbyshire continued to struggle to break off the shackles and score freely. The only batsman who looked able to manoeuvre the ball into gaps and also pose a boundary threat was Anuj Dal, who scored a classy looking 35 off 26 balls with three 4s and one 6.
The only other contributions of note for Derbyshire came from Ben Slater, who opened the innings with 33 off 29 balls, and skipper Gary Wilson with a run a ball 28.
The Worcestershire attack, which has been decimated by injuries, showed great depth. The impressive Dillon Pennington bowled with genuine pace and claimed two wickets, both with balls that hurried the batsmen and caused them to top edge shots to short fine leg.
If Pennington was impressive with his pace, the Brett D’Oliveira was as impressive with his leg spin, showing great control and flight and finishing with figures of 1 for 21 from his four overs, choking the life out of the Derbyshire innings in the middle overs.
Worcestershire never looked to be struggling to score, and always appeared to be playing within themselves. Guptill and Daryl Mitchell milked the bowling and, when the opportunity arose, found the boundary without ever looking like getting out of third gear.
Guptill brought up his half century in the 14thover off 52 balls, having hit three 6s but no 4s. He put this right two balls later, when he drove Lockie Ferguson back past him, narrowly missing the bowler in his follow through and instead crashing into the boundary.
When Mitchell fell in the 14thover, looking to loft Ravi Rampaul for 6 over deep midwicket, Derbyshire might have sensed they had a sniff of getting back in the game. However, Man of the Match Gupitll carried on batting serenely, scoring 65 runs off 65 runs before falling to the impressively quick Ferguson, caught on the boundary by MacLeod. Guptill’s demise only delayed the inevitable, as Derbyshire old boy Ross Whiteley came in and scored 9 off three balls, finishing the game in the 19thover with a six off Matt Critchley.
Another twenty or so runs may have made the game a lot more interesting. In reality, however, the Worcestershire batsmen were always in control and never had to take any risks, as they comfortably chased down what in the end was confirmed to be an below par total set by the home side.
After the game, Worcestershire batsman Martin Guptill said: “Anytime you go three from three in a T20 competition, which can be quite fickle, is a great start so it’s onwards and upwards.
Derbyshire captain Gary Wilson said: “I thought there was more to take out of today’s game than there was a couple of days ago.
“We were probably 15 or 20 runs light again and if we could have got a few more, it might have been a different game because there was enough in the wicket.”
The result leaves the two sides on polar opposites of the North Group. Worcestershire are sitting pretty at the top of the group, with three victories from three games, and will be looking to make it four from four when they welcome the Northamptonshire Steelbacks to the Blackfinch New Road on Friday evening.
Derbyshire, who have now played two and lost two, find themselves in eighth in the table. As they visit Headingley to face the Yorkshire Vikings on Wednesday, they will be looking to get their T20 season on track.