Match Preview: Worcestershire Rapids vs Lancashire Lightning
Lancashire Lightning head to New Road unbeaten
Vitality Blast, North Group
Sunday June 13, 2021, 2.30pm
If Lancashire’s previous trips to New Road for Blast games are anything to go by, we could be in for fireworks tomorrow afternoon.
Two of the Lightning’s top five totals in the history of this competition have come at the quaint Midlands venue; 218-5 in a win on their last visit there in 2019 and 229-4 (second highest) in 2014. Also a win.
In 2016, another victory, Lancashire posted 200-3 when Jos Buttler hit 57 off 22 balls at the top of the order with a broken hand.
More of the same would be perfect tomorrow. Obviously, minus the broken hand!
Lancashire have won back-to-back games to begin the campaign, while Worcestershire tied their opener against Nottinghamshire at New Road on Wednesday before beating Northamptonshire by 32 runs at Wantage Road last night.
Lancashire are on an early roll, leading you to think the only team changes would be a tinker here and there to fall in line with conditions.
The Worcester v Notts game was a low-scoring affair played out on a slow pitch, though the shorter boundaries may count against spinners should there be more pace in the pitch.
Lancashire bowler Richard Gleeson misses out with a back injury, whilst Saqib Mahmood is still out with an abdominal strain.
Worcestershire were champions in 2018 and runners up in 2019, beating Lancashire in the morning semi-final at Edgbaston in the second of those campaigns.
They have quickly emerged as one of the outstanding limited overs teams in England over the last few years.
Unfortunately for them, they had a campaign to forget last year in the Central Group, winning only two of 10 games and finishing bottom.
They have signed Australian left-arm fast bowler Ben Dwarshuis and New Zealand leg-spinner Ish Sodhi as their overseas players for the Blast.
Sodhi is an experienced international, while Dwarshuis is yet to represent his country. He was the leading wicket-taker for Sydney Sixers as they successfully defended their Big Bash title over the winter.
Moeen Ali is captaining them in the early stages of the competition, before England’s limited overs commitments begin later this month.
Against Northants last night, Worcester comfortably defended a target of 186.
Worcester posted 185-7, an innings built around Ali’s 52 off 30 balls from number three.
In reply, Northants lost Richard Levi first ball and slipped to 98-7 before recovering to post a non-threatening 153-9.
Five of Worcester’s seven-man attack struck, including Dwarshuis and Sodhi. Off-spinner Moeen and seamer Charlie Morris both finished with two wickets apiece.
The two counties did not meet last year due to Coronavirus bringing about a tinker with the formats. Instead of North and South Groups, which we have reverted to for this season, it was North, South and Central and the two teams were kept apart.
The last meetings came in 2019, when Lancashire completed the double in the North Group, winning by 21 runs on DLS at Emirates Old Trafford in late July and then by 25 runs at New Road a month later.
Lancashire racked up 218-5 in their 20 overs, their fifth highest total ever in the Blast.
Steven Croft made 94 off 55 balls from number three, including six fours and six sixes, before the Rapids came up with a spirited response of 193-7, especially given the fact they were in all sorts of bother at 59-5 in the eighth over.
Saqib Mahmood and Glenn Maxwell took two apiece in the early stages before Ross Whiteley gave his side a slither of a chance with 89 not out off 40 balls.
Maxwell finished with 3-23 from four overs.
What they said:
Liam Livingstone believes Lancashire can benefit from the unknown surrounding new signing Finn Allen, whose unbeaten 73 off 51 balls led them to victory over Leicestershire on Thursday.
Allen, 22, has only played 18 career T20 matches for the Lightning, Wellington and New Zealand.
He is very much a new kid on the block in world cricket.
And his new opening partner Livingstone said: “He hits the ball as well as anyone. We’ve seen it in training and out on the park as well.
“Not many people are going to know him and where to bowl at him.
“That is a pretty big advantage for us.
“I’m just happy to get one and stand at the other end watching him. It’s great fun.”