Derbyshire Falcons keep T20 Blast hopes alive
Derbyshire Falcons kept alive their t20 NatWest Blast quarter-finals hopes with a 29 run victory with 13 balls to spare at Derby that ended Worcestershire Rapids chances of reaching the last eight.
Hamish Rutherford hammered 64 from 38 balls and Wayne Madsen made an unbeaten 50 from 30 balls as the Falcons posted an imposing 192 for 5.
The Rapids were always struggling after losing early wickets and although Brett D’Oliveira scored 44 from 33 balls, they were all out for 163 with leg-spinner Matt Critchley claiming 3 for 36.
Derbyshire had not won a t20 game this season batting first but Rutherford’s up-front fireworks provided the platform to set a challenging total.
The New Zealander had already taken a century off the Worcestershire bowlers in the 50 overs competition this season and he looked on course for another after pulling Joe Leach and Charlie Morris for sixes in the powerplay.
Although Wes Durston mistimed a pull to deep mid on and Neil Broom was well caught on the run at deep midwicket, Rutherford drove D’Oliveira for a third six in an over that cost 17 as the Falcons reached 91 for 2 at the halfway stage.
D’Oliveira responded to that mauling by taking two superb catches at long on, first knocking the ball up and holding the rebound inside the rope to remove Chesney Hughes and then diving full length to end Rutherford’s explosive innings after he had launched Daryl Mitchell for his fourth six.
But his exit did not slow the Falcons’ flight as Madsen improvised impressively, upper-cutting Ed Barnard for the first of two sixes before Shiv Thakor dispatched the seamer high over the sightscreen in the final over as Derbyshire equalled their sixth highest t20 total.
The Rapids needed a Rutherford-style start to their chase but after Leach took 12 from the first over, Tom Kohler-Cadmore was caught behind trying to pull the paceman and Alexei Kervezee went the same way to Thakor.
When Leach was athletically pouched by Chesney Hughes leaping at mid on, the Rapids were 32 for 3 but D’Oliveira hit back by droving Thakor for four and six in the final over of the powerplay.
The Rapids moved to 77 but after Mitchell launched Durston high to long off, they went into the last 10 overs needing 114 with much resting on D’Oliveira and Ross Whiteley.
The former Derbyshire all-rounder was threatening to change the game when he pulled and drove Durston for consecutive sixes as 19 came from the 13th over but in the next, he was caught at long on for 27 from 15 balls.
Ben Cox hit Critchley for two sixes but when he skied the leg spinner to long on and D’Oliveira was caught behind cutting at the next ball, the Rapids were heading for the rocks.