Vitality Blast - 4 September 2020
Gloucestershire won by 30 runs
Venue: Bristol County Ground
Gloucestershire v Worcestershire Rapids
Chris Dent smashed a career-best 87 to propel Gloucestershire to a convincing 30-run Vitality Blast triumph over Worcestershire Rapids at the Bristol County Ground.
Making only his fourth T20 appearance in as many seasons, the left-handed opener dominated as the hosts raised a formidable 181-4 after being put in to bat. Ed Barnard took 3-44 to keep the visitors in the hunt, but James Bracey's 39 not out reinforced Gloucestershire's superiority.
Bottom of the Central Group table without a win in five attempts, Worcestershire came up short on 151-9, their prospects of making the knockout stages all but over. Jake Libby top-scored with 33, but Ryan Higgins claimed 4-34 and Matt Taylor 2-26 as Gloucestershire kept the lid on things. Gloucestershire have now won their last three games and are hard on the heels of leaders Northamptonshire, who they face next in the short format.
Dent clearly enjoys playing against Worcestershire. Having plundered a quickfire 60 in a winning cause at New Road five days earlier, the left-hander went on another run spree in Bristol, crafting an impressive half century from 31 balls to afford Gloucestershire's innings a super-charged start. He dominated progressive stands of 47, 33 and 45 with George Hankins, Ian Cockbain and Ryan Higgins for the first, second and third wickets respectively, striking two sixes and 11 fours and scoring all around the wicket to keep the pressure on Worcestershire's bowlers.
Eclipsing his previous best score of 63, made against Glamorgan at Cheltenham in July 2013, Dent no doubt had his sights set on attaining three figures when he attempted to hit Barnard down the ground and holed out to Brett D'Oliveira at long-on. Gloucestershire's red ball captain had faced 52 balls and, with Gloucestershire handily-placed on 148-4 in the 17th over, laid the foundations for a big score.
Chastened in defeat to Somerset in midweek, Worcestershire's bowlers nevertheless mustered an improved performance, demonstrating resilience to bounce back after conceding 51 in the opening six-over powerplay. Adam Finch bowled Hankins for seven before Barnard took centre stage, inducing Cockbain to top-edge to cover for 18 and then bowling the dangerous Higgins for 17, before weighing in with the key wicket of Dent.
But James Bracey ensured the hosts finished with a flourish, smiting 39 not out from 20 balls, with a brace of sixes and a four, and sharing a progressive unbroken stand of 33 in 3.3 overs for the fifth wicket with skipper Jack Taylor (8 not out).
The writing was on the wall when Hamish Rutherford, Jack Haynes and Riki Wessels all departed inside six overs, Worcestershire limping to 36-3 at the close of the powerplay.
Matt Taylor accounted for the openers, Rutherford and Wessels both offering leg-side catches to Tom Smith, while Higgins bowled Haynes via a bottom edge as the top order faltered.
Charged with the task of rebuilding the innings, D'Oliveira and Libby tucked into spinners Smith and Graeme van Buuren, adding 57 in 6.5 overs for the fourth wicket to keep the reply afloat. George Scott broke the partnership, having D'Oliveira held at short fine leg for 26 in the 12th over, after which Ben Cox reverse swept Higgins to short third man as Gloucestershire reasserted their stranglehold.
Libby represented Worcestershire's last chance, only to be run out for 33 by van Buuren's throw from deep mid-wicket as the visitors lurched to 109-6 in the 16th over. The outcome was already a foregone conclusion by the time Higgins removed Dillon Pennington and Ross Whitely in quick succession.
Gloucestershire all-rounder Ryan Higgins said: "It was a really pleasing win. Denty's knock on that wicket was brilliant and the difference between the two teams. It was a slow pitch after all the rain and James Bracey also did well to get those runs at the end.
I thought 181 was way over par on that pitch and then we bowled well to back that up. Matt Taylor was outstanding with the new ball and his powerplay bowling put them on the back foot. I could have bowled better, but it was nice to end up with some decent figures."
Worcestershire Rapids won the toss and elected to bowl.
George Hankins | Christopher Dent | Ian Cockbain | Ryan Higgins | James Bracey | Jack Taylor | George Scott | Graeme van Buuren | Tom Smith | David Payne | Matthew Taylor |
Hamish Rutherford | Mattheus Wessels | Jacob Libby | Jack Haynes | Brett D'Oliveira | Oliver Cox | Ross Whiteley | Edward Barnard | Dillon Pennington | Patrick Brown | Adam Finch |
|Gloucestershire win by 30 runs|
|Gloucestershire First Innings||How out||Runs||Minutes||Balls||4s||6s|
|Extras||0b 1lb 0nb 0p 4w||5|
Fall of wickets
|Worcestershire First Innings||How out||Runs||Minutes||Balls||4s||6s|
|Extras||0b 3lb 0nb 0p 4w||7|
Fall of wickets
|Graeme van Buuren||1||0||17||0|