The first home NatWest T20 Blast match is nearly here and Worcestershire Rapids will go into it full of confidence after overcoming Nottinghamshire Outlaws by 24 runs at Trent Bridge – the first win under their rebranded name.
The Rapids will take on the current T20 holders Northamptonshire Steelbacks at New Road this Friday (5.30pm start) and will be looking to build on their first ever win over the Outlaws in this format of the game at the fifth attempt.
It was just the tonic the Rapids were looking for in a game described beforehand as "the toughest in the group" by skipper Daryl Mitchell after losing the opening two away games at Durham Jets and Lancashire Lightning.
Interest is mounting in Friday’s tea-time match which will see the first appearance at New Road of New Zealand batsman Colin Munro.
Worcestershire made 163-6 in their 20 overs after being put into bat with Moeen Ali, Colin Munro, Alexei Kervezee and Ross Whiteley all making sizeable contributions with the bat.
Then paceman Chris Russell justified his call-up to the side with three wickets in his final two overs while spinners Saeed Ajmal and Brett D'Oliveira kept a tight rein on the Outlaws batsmen.
But there was also some stunning fielding including Whiteley's spectacular leap into the air on the boundary to deny Samit Patel a certain looking six.
Russell and D'Oliveira came into the side in place of Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Charlie Morris.
Moeen showed positive intent from the start and hit the first two deliveries of the match from Luke Fletcher for four.
Richard Oliver, who impressed in the opening two games, departed to the final ball of Fletcher's over for four.
Moeen continued to find the boundary and the score had moved onto 35 in the fourth over when Mitchell (6) was caught behind by Chris Read off Andy Carter.
Moeen made 28 off 20 balls with five fours when he fell to a comfortable catch at cover off Carter in the final over of the powerplay which ended with the total on 46-3.
Munro had warmed up for the game with a half century for the Seconds the previous day against Somerset and instantly took a liking to the bowlng of Patel.
The New Zealander hit him for three sixes in his first over, one from a reverse lap and two over long on in an over costing 20 runs.
He made 31 off 22 balls before he departed to a top edge off Sam Wood at 90-4 but then Kervezee and Whiteley figured in the most productive stand of the innings – 62 in eight overs.
Whiteley twice drilled Wood for six over long on and Kervezee kept the scoreboard ticking over.
The duo perished in successive balls to Ajmal Shahzad – a target for Worcestershire five years ago when at Yorkshire – with Kervezee making 43 off 36 balls with two fours and Whiteley 34 off 26 balls with two sixes and two fours.
Nottinghamshire made a steady start to their reply with Alex Hales, who was on loan at Worcestershire earlier in the month, doing the bulk of the scoring.
Jack Shantry made the breakthrough in the fourth over with Michael Lumb (1) caught off a top edge by D'Oliveira with the total on 24.
Outlaws skipper James Taylor (12) was run out by Shantry in the final over of the powerplay.
Worcestershire did not allow the Outlaws to gain momentum and Moeen struck a crucial blow when Hales, having made 39 off 34 balls, was adjudged lbw at 71-3 in the 10th over.
The Outlaws needed 59 from the final six overs when D'Oliveira returned to the attack and had Rikki Wessels (18) caught at deep mid off by Whiteley.
Ajmal enjoyed success for the first time with Read (5) holing out at deep mid wicket and then Russell made two breakthroughs in three balls, with Steven Mullaney caught in the deep by Kervezee and Wood bowled – both for ducks.
Victory was virtually assured when Patel (41) fell victim to Ajmal before Russell picked up another wicket with the final ball of his spell in dismissing Shahzad (2) as the Outlaws closed on 139-9.
Russell finished with 3-32 and Ajmal and D'Oliveira 2-21 and 1-21 respectively while Shantry 1-26 and Moeen 1-32 were the other wicket-takers.
General admission advance ticket prices start at £17 in advance for Friday's clash and £5 for juniors. The Rapids are coming so make sure of your place!