Nottinghamshire Outlaws and Worcestershire Rapids produced an extraordinary tie, as the Outlaws’ defence of their Vitality Blast title got off to a frustrating start at New Road.
Notts looked well on course to chase 153 runs, by following up some tight bowling with brutal powerplay hitting. Joe Clarke (45 off 21 balls) and Alex Hales (31 off 18 balls) produced a destructive partnership of 76 at the top of the order, hitting seven sixes and making a small ground look even smaller. The most impressive shot came from Clarke who hit a maximum with what looked like just a gentle push down the ground, but was timed to absolute perfection.
However, Worcestershire somehow dragged the game back once Hales and Clarke had been dismissed. Moeen Ali showed his international class to restrict the strike rates of the dangerous Ben Duckett and Tom Moores, before dismissing them both. He finished with figures of 2-15 from 4 overs.
Peter Trego looked like he was going to carry Notts home, but a brilliant final seven balls by the Rapids produced three wickets and denied Notts the victory. Steven Mullaney was caught by Josh Tongue, Luke Fletcher was run out and then on the final ball Trego himself was run out, trying to come back for the winning run for 35 off a disappointing 38 balls.
Earlier, Worcestershire’s innings had been held together by former Notts player Jake Libby (52*). He worked hard for his half-century, which only featured three boundaries and yet still came off 43 balls, showing how hard he ran between the wickets. He had to rebuild after Worcestershire Rapids’ Brett D’Oliveira and Moeen Ali had been undone by the bowling of Matt Carter.
That, the third over, really set the tone for the innings. Nottinghamshire Outlaws went for a pace-off approach and the Rapids struggled to find the boundary. Samit Patel was the tormenter-in-chief as he recorded an economy rate of just 5 off his 3 overs. Libby saw D’Oliveira run out and Ben Cox caught and bowled off Steven Mullaney, to leave his side 63-4.
Ross Whiteley was the Rapids player to offer him support as they rebuilt. Whiteley hit two maximums before he was caught trying to pull to the leg side for 42 off 35 balls, and then Ed Barnard came in and hit 10 off 3 balls in a much-needed cameo to give the Rapids a little bit of momentum.
That momentum looked like it would be wasted following the powerplay but the death bowling of the Rapids earned them a tie. They sent their fans home happy with a point.