SUPER RAPIDS! Worcestershire Rapids maintained their 100 per cent record in the 2018 Vitality Blast as they overcame Derbyshire Falcons by six wickets at the 3aaa County Ground.
Debutant Dillon Pennington impressed on his Blast debut with two key wickets as part of a disciplined attack which restricted the Falcons to 135-9 after they had been put into bat on a slow pitch.
Then Martin Guptill hit his second successive half century for the Rapids – and against his former club – to help seal a third successive victory with eight balls to spare as he adapted to the conditions.
Another ex Derbyshire player in Ross Whiteley sealed victory in the grand manner with a six off Matt Critchley.
Victory keeps the Rapids at the top of the North Group and the players deserve full credit for overcoming the demands of playing a trio of games in just four days.
They are continuing the magnificent white ball cricket played all summer and also evident in topping the North Group in the Royal London One-Day Cup.
Now the Rapids have a four day break from action before entertaining Northamptonshire Steelbacks at Blackfinch New Road on Friday evening.
The Rapids attack never relinquished their grip of the Derbyshire batsmen and Pennington picked up the key wickets of Calum MacLeod and Wayne Madsen in one over.
MacLeod, who scored a century in Scotland’s memorable ODI win over England recently, went for a scoop shot and was caught at backward square leg by Luke Wood.
Then in the same over Madsen went for a pull and also skied a catch to Wood in the same area to leave Derbyshire on 29-3.
It was Wood who had made the initial breakthrough as Critchley top edged an attempted pull.
Slower bowlers, skipper Brett D’Oliveira and Daryl Mitchell, ensured there was no release in pressure.
Ben Slater (33) went down the wicket to D’Oliveira and was stumped and Alex Hughes departed in the same manner after aiming a big hit against Mitchell.
Gary Wilson (28) and Anuj Dal (35) added 51 for the sixth wicket to take the total to 117-5.
But the loss of four wickets for nine runs ensured there was no late surge of momentum in the Derbyshire innings.
Pat Brown, fresh from his Blast best of 3-28 against Lancashire Lightning, collected the scalp of Wilson who nicked an expansive drive through to Cox.
Daryn Smith went for a reverse sweep and was lbw to Ed Barnard, Brown struck again after Wahab Riaz was caught off a leading edge at cover and Dal (35) was run out.
Pennington finished with 2-22 from his four overs, Brown 2-28 and there was one wicket apiece for Wood, Barnard, D’Oliveira and Mitchell.
When Worcestershire launched their reply, Joe Clarke targeted Madsen and smashed two sixes in the opening over of the innings via a pull and a hit over long on.
The England Lions batsman was on 13 when he was caught at mid off from the bowling of Ravin Rampaul.
Callum Ferguson (10) was bowled by a delivery from Lockie Ferguson which came back in sharply but then Mitchell joined Guptill, who had three different spells at Derbyshire, for the decisive stand.
The 34-year-old was the perfect foil to the New Zealander in ensuring a modest looking target presented few alarms.
They added 70 in 10.1 overs for the third wicket.
Mitchell (18) was third out at 99 – caught at deep mid wicket off Rampaul – shortly after hitting Alex Hughes for six over long on.
Guptill followed up his 51 against the Lightning with a fine run a ball 65 with three sixes and two fours.
There were only 10 runs required when he sliced the ball to cover and was dismissed off Lockie Ferguson.
But then Whiteley deposited Critchley over the ropes to ensure another fine win for the Rapids.
*Worcestershire 2018 overseas player Travis Head dismissed for 19 in Tri-Series final in Zimbabwe as Pakistan defeat Australia by four wickets.