A superb display of hitting by opener Riki Wessels powered holders Worcestershire Rapids to a resounding five wicket victory over Yorkshire Vikings in this evening’s Vitality Blast encounter at Headingley.
Wessels hammered 91 off just 51 balls with five sixes and 10 fours as the Rapids clinched a third successive win in the T20 competition and overhauled Yorkshire’s 177-7 with 15 balls to spare.
It followed on from his 74 in last Sunday’s win over Durham at Blackfinch New Road.
Wessels received excellent support from Callum Ferguson (27) in a stand of 65 in six overs and then Wayne Parnell (27) in adding a further 59 in just five overs.
Victory maintained second spot in the North Group for the Rapids and they are just one point behind Lancashire Lightning who defeated Durham.
Worcestershire were forced into a change from the side which defeated Derbyshire Falcons with skipper Brett D’Oliveira ruled out with a fractured thumb.
Ferguson took over as captain and all-rounder and spinner George Rhodes came into the side for his first Blast appearance of the season.
The Vikings elected to bat and were given a flying start by Adam Lyth and former Worcestershire player Tom Kohler-Cadmore.
Lyth reached his half century off 32 balls with four sixes and three fours out of 69-0 in the eighth over.
Rhodes came into the attack for the 12th over and made the first breakthrough with his second delivery.
Kohler-Cadmore (40 off 27 balls) holed out to Ed Barnard at deep mid-wicket with the total 104-1 – a straightforward catch compared to his superb diving efforts against Notts Outlaws and Lancashire Lightning.
Rhodes collected another scalp in his next over with 10 runs added to the total when Lyth (68 off 48 balls) pulled the spinner to Daryl Mitchell at mid wicket.
Pennington came back into the attack and his delivery followed Harry Brook (17) after he tried to make room outside the leg stump and it ricocheted off his pads onto the middle stump.
The England Under-19 bowler collected another scalp when David Willey (3) lofted a delivery to Wessels at long off.
Wicket were now tumbling at regular intervals and Gary Balance (4) chipped Pat Brown to Barnard at extra cover.
Jordan Thompson (0) was yorked by Parnell and the first ball of the final over from Brown disposed of Tim Bresnan (18) as Barnard held onto a third chance at mid wicket.
Pennington finished with figures of 4-0-34-2, Parnell 4-0-36-1, Brown 4-0-41-2, Rhodes 2-0-12-2, Mitchell 2-0-16-0 and Barnard 4-0-36-0.
Wessels was soon into his stride when the Rapids launched their reply, twice cutting Willey through backward point to the boundary in the first over.
Martin Guptill (5) – the Rapids leading run-scorer in the competition after four matches – was caught at fine leg off a pull from a delivery by Duanne Olivier.
But Wessels continued to blaze away and smashed sixes over long off and deep backward square in an over from Steve Patterson costing 20 runs.
Ferguson and Wessels also picked up further sixes in an over from Jordan Thompson which went for a further 17 runs.
The Wessels-Ferguson partnership was worth 65 in six overs when the latter, having made 27 off 19 balls, made room to attack Lyth and chipped a catch to point.
The Rapids stood ahead of the required rate on 96-2 at the half-way stage as Wessels went to a superb half century from 32 balls.
There was no stopping the former Nottinghamshire player and a fifth six off Thompson in another productive over costing 16 runs moved him into the 80s.
He was finally dismissed for 91 when he lofted Dom Bess to Lyth at long on and left the ground to a fine ovation from the crowd.
Parnell was caught at mid on off Olivier and Ross Whiteley (0) was bowled by Willey but Barnard drilled his first delivery for four to seal another ruthless and impressive victory.