Cox steers Rapids to victory after Ali’s all-round all-star performance

Cox steers Rapids to victory after Ali’s all-round all-star performance

Moeen Ali, pic via YouTube, with thanks

 

Moeen Ali blew the Sharks away in an all-blue final at Edgbaston. The England star took 3-30 and hit 41 having also scored 41 and taken 2-16 in the first semi-final.

Wicket-keeper Ben Cox then played another match-defining, top-scoring knock of 46* to clinch the title.

Sussex’s Laurie Evans scored a defiant 50 and a further four wickets fell to the spin of Beer and Briggs, but 157 was never quite enough, even for such an esteemed bowling attack as Sussex’s.

Luke Wright won his second toss of the day, and again opted to bat.

Two sensationally timed, consecutive drives over long off by Phil Salt off Wayne Parnell in the second over were followed two balls later by a bizarre piece of cricket.

Salt thought he was ambling safely to the non-striker’s end, but he did not run his bat in and the slow motion third umpire replays showed both feet in the air before being grounded, as the bails were broken by Brett D’Oliveira’s superb throw!

Six to Laurie Evans over cow and another long off six, this time from Luke Wright, saw Parnell’s figures at 0-28 off two-all four maximums coming off the South African’s bowling.

Yet again Pat Brown bowled superbly, just one coming off his second over, his two powerplay overs for only six runs went some way to making this the lowest scoring powerplay of the day: 43-1.

Similar to their first match, Moeen and Ed Barnard again came on and bowled superbly in the first few overs with five men back.

Eventually Wright felt he had to take on the medium-pace of Lions bowler Barnard. Two fours and a six, all straight, off the ninth got the skipper’s strike-rate above 100.

But just before the halfway point, Wright danced down the wicket and laid no bat on ball – Ali had him bowled for 33 off 25 balls. No hundred this innings, but well over 100 runs in the day for Wright. Sussex 77-2 after 10.

Two phenomenal sixes from young Bermudan star Delray Rawlins rudely interrupted Sweet Caroline; perhaps D’Oliveira wished he was in the crowd, not bowling, at this point! Rawlins reached 21 before Ali had him caught at long on.

Finals Day player of the day was, by some distance Moeen Ali, he also bowled Wiese for 6, finishing with 3-30.

Evans reached 50 off 40 balls but shortly after chose the wrong ball to attempt to scoop-bowled by Barnard for 52, Sussex 138-5 in the 18th.

Ball dominated ball during the latter overs, Sussex limping up to 157-6, but with their bowling attack they’d have backed themselves to defend anything over 150.

Worcestershire had no need for an explosive start. Slow, steady accumulation whilst preserving wickets was the key, and that’s exactly what Joe Clarke and Moeen Ali did, seeing off Jofra Archer and Tymal Mills’ opening spells with little consternation.

Chris Jordan’s first over was treated with disdain by Ali, winning this all England battle comfortably with two fours and a six off the fifth over.

Clarke kept on hitting boundaries without needing to use the aerial route, whilst Ali did exactly that – striking Danny Briggs off the back foot over cow-corner. Briggs had Clarke caught behind for 33 and Beer had Tom Fell caught at short extra cover the following over, but Ali continued on his merry way.

Together D’Oliveira and Ali put on 18 before the former was superbly stumped by Michael Burgess off Briggs. Semi-final top-scorer Cox came to the wicket at 80-3, one ball into the last quarter of the final.

Then, the biggest wicket of the lot, on exactly the same score he got in the semi-final (41), Ali chipped Beer towards Salt who took a great catch diving forward at long off.

Beer and Briggs had bowled non-stop since the powerplay ended and this fourth wicket the pair took signalled our own personal WASP ticking further towards the Sharks for the first time in the contest.

The spin-twins earnt combined figures of 4-51 off eight overs bowled straight through-an impressive and very rare feat in modern T20 cricket!

Ben Cox played the late barrage of pace from Archer and Jordan with apparent ease, Cox’s consecutive fours off Archer’s first comeback over setting the stall early.

Whiteley did chip one towards long on for Jordan to take a catch to rival Salts’, giving his Bridgetown-born teammate the first wicket to not fall to spin this innings.

But Cox continued to ramp, dig out and dab his side towards the finish line, even throwing in a massive six straight back over Jordan’s head for good measure.

Archer bowled the penultimate over with 17 runs required, but five no balls, just missing Cox’s head, then a six and a four sealed the deal emphatically for the first-time finalists.

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