Worcestershire underlined their white-ball prowess with a dominant 125-run victory over Lancashire at Old Trafford to begin their Royal London One-Day Cup campaign.
The defending Vitality T20 Blast champions, who have finished top of the North Group in the 50-over format in each of the past two seasons, won the toss and never looked back.
A blistering batting display, triggered by Riki Wessels and then spearheaded by Hamish Rutherford and Daryl Mitchell, was backed up by a wily bowling display against a flat Lancashire batting effort.
It was a performance that showed just how good the Rapids are in white-ball cricket and one that must give them reason to believe they can improve on last season’s semi-final defeat.
Wessels, a winter arrival from Nottinghamshire, smashed a quick-fire 72 on his List A for Worcestershire which set the platform for a superb partnership between Rutherford and Mitchell.
Both hit centuries after the swift departure of Tom Fell, sharing a stand of 182 and drove their side to a commanding position at 292-3 when Rutherford fell for 108.
The pair had received a life apiece, Mitchell – who eventually made 101 from 81 balls – was dropped by keeper Brooke Guest and Rutherford put down by Lancashire skipper Dane Vilas. But their knocks were pivotal in setting a commanding target despite a late rally from Lancashire’s bowlers.
Worcestershire’s final four wickets fell for just two runs in the final two overs, but they had set a daunting target of 368 for a Lancashire side that, with Alex Davies injured and Liam Livingstone at the Indian Premier League, appeared short of batting.
In truth, the hosts never looked like getting anywhere near that target. Haseeb Hameed fell early and although Keaton Jennings and Guest put on 75 for the second wicket it was a partnership that failed to really ignite the innings.
Jennings made a 52-ball 50 but fell soon after and Guest joined him a couple of overs later.
That rather made it Glenn Maxwell or bust for Lancashire. The in-form Australian all-rounder showed glimpses of his destructive power, blasting three 6s in reaching 35, but his departure signalled the beginning of the end.
It finished with something of a whimper, Lancashire slipping from 185-4 to 191-8, although a 10th wicket partnership of 27 between Matt Parkinson and Steven Croft added some respectability.
As much as it was a showcase of Worcestershire’s white-ball strengths it was a reminder of Lancashire’s 50-over shortcomings.
They haven’t reached the final of this competition since 2006, struggling to even get out of the group in recent years, and this showing will do little to boost confidence that run will end this season.
It is a batting unit that appears short of firepower, Maxwell aside, and a seam bowling attack that appears fairly easy to get after.
The one positive was that leg-spinner Parkinson showed once again the quality he has in limited-overs cricket, claiming List A best figures of 5-51.
In reality, with away trips to Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire to come in the next four days, Lancashire could be staring down the barrel of another group stage elimination by the time the Easter eggs have been digested on Sunday.