An incredible comeback by Worcestershire Rapids means they have booked their place in the final tonight. They defeated Nottinghamshire Outlaws by just one run in a thrilling semi-final to start the 2019 Finals Day with a bang.
Luke Wood and Matt Carter got the prestigious Finals Day underway in front of a sold-out crowd at sun-soaked Edgbaston. It was the ideal start for Carter, as he got a wicket with his third ball in the second over, Hamish Rutherford caught at cover for 5.
This wicket brought Moeen Ali to the crease, who delivered fireworks straight away, hitting Carter for consecutive sixes with his first two balls. However, the fireworks were short-lived. His next over, the spinner bowled Ali for 21 off 9 balls.
With the loss of two wickets, Worcestershire finished their powerplay on 54/2. It was an explosive start for the Rapids but Notts had other ideas. The run rate soon slowed down, with Steven Mullaney and Samit Patel brought into the attack and another wicket falling as with Parnell skied one off Mullaney for 15.
Worcestershire reached 76/3 at the halfway point, and the wickets kept on falling. With Dan Christian’s third ball in the 11thover, he got the wicket of Ben Cox who edged behind for 1.
Notts continued to make breakthroughs, with the Rapids struggling to establish partnerships. Mullaney got the big wicket of Riki Wessels, bowling him for 34 off 38 balls, then Carter returned to get his third wicket, bowling Brett D’Oliveria for 7. The seventh wicket to fall was due to some outstanding fielding by Joe Clarke at point, running out Ed Barnard for 4.
Ross Whiteley did put in a valiant effort, helping Worcestershire to put a defendable target on the board, as he dispatched Mullaney into the crowd for 16 off the first three balls of the 17th overs. However, tight bowling by Notts afterwards shortened his fireworks and, then in the final over, Harry Gurney sent him back to the dug-out, caught on the boundary for 36 off 24 balls.
Gurney secured two wickets in three balls during the final over, as Daryl Mitchell is caught in the deep for 13 off 12 balls, Worcester posting 147/9 at the end of their 20 overs.
In pursuit of 148 for a victory, Alex Hales and Chris Nash put on an opening partnership of 51 in the powerplay, with Nash hitting Parnell in his first over for 18, hitting three consecutive fours and one six in the second over. The partnership concluded when Nash mis-timed a shot off Barnard that landed in the hands of Mitchell for 24 off 16 balls.
Notts finished their powerplay on 53/1, as Hales continued to make light work of the chase alongside Ben Duckett. They passed 10 overs on 83/1, needing 65 off 10 overs. The international batsman surpassed the half-century mark from 39 balls, but it was his England teammate, Ali, who made the breakthrough, as Hales edged behind for 52 off 42 balls.
As Duckett settled into the run-chase, Notts required 30 from the four remaining overs. After some restriction from Worcestershire in the middle stages after Hales’ departure, the Outlaws had a sense they were coming back into the contest.
It seemed that Notts were dominating the throughout their chase, but the Rapids slowly came back into the game with controlled bowling from Ali and Brown restricting Notts’ flow. Although, with 24 coming off the 17th & 18th overs – and Notts needed 11 from 12 balls – it was felt this was their game to lose.
Brown then brought Worcestershire back into the game in magnificent fashion, with three wickets falling in the 19th over. Christian had to depart after he was caught by Ali for 15, and Moores was caught on the boundary for 1 and then Mullaney was run out without scoring, leaving Notts needing 7 off 6 balls.
The tension did not stop there. We were presented with a thrilling final over, where Notts couldn’t manage to get the ball away to take the pressure off, and with 3 off 2 balls needed, then 2 off 1 and a dot from the last ball meant Worcestershire Rapids won by one run.
Speaking to the press afterwards, Alex Gidman had this to say: “[it was an] amazing effort, really; amazing game of cricket.
“There are so many ways that T20 entertains us and that last couple of overs was pretty special for ourselves.
“It’s probably unrealistic to think it’s going to all go swimmingly well, but I think you just try and hang in the game for as long as possible, which is something we’ve talk about doing, it’s something that Mo talks about with the group all the time and we managed to do that.
“Obviously those last couple of overs got a little bit messy but we managed to somehow pull it out of the bag.”