The Steelbacks are on the verge of elimination from the NatWest T20 Blast after a 31-run defeat to the Worcestershire Rapids.
If Nottinghamshire Outlaws get the better of Leicestershire Foxes on Sunday at Trent Bridge then the Steelbacks’ defence of the title is as good as over.
Daryl Mitchell and Colin Munro were the stars for the victors, the former claiming a club record 5-28 and the latter giving the innings some real impetus with a quick fire 49.
After Richard Oliver fell to the first ball of the match, lofting Matthew Spriegel inexplicably to long-off, marginally in excess of 50 was taken from the powerplay. That included the fall of Tom Kohler-Cadmore but Munro was quickly into his stride with a salvo of boundaries.
Mitchell fell to the first ball after the fielding restrictions had been relaxed and Ross Whiteley was excellently run out by Steven Crook but this brought in Ben Cox who provided excellent support for Munro.
The duo added 49 in slightly more than four overs and while they were going a substantial total looked on the cards. But the New Zealander’s departure for a 30-ball 49, run out by bowler David Willey at the non-striker’s end after calling Cox through, meant that expectations had to be lowered.
The wicketkeeper moved on to a career best Twenty20 score of 46 but the loss of four wickets in the five overs, three of which fell in the 20th bowled by Muhammad Azhar Ullah, and the addition of only 39 combined to make the final 162/9 seemingly under par.
Richard Levi and Willey responded solidly and had taken 42 from the runs required column before the latter had his stumps rattled by Joe Leach.
When the powerplay finished, 115 was needed from 84 balls which represents a fairly straightforward task in the majority of cases but the fall of Levi and Kyle Coetzer, both to Shaaiq Choudhry, who ended with 2 for 21, changed the balance of power slightly.
The scales tipped further in the Rapids’ favour when Crook gave Mitchell a return catch in his first over and this put Adam Rossington in the spotlight. The loanee hauled a couple of sixes over the leg-side to keep the hosts in touch but he fell lbw to Mitchell and when Rob Newton chipped a return catch in the same over it wasn’t good news.
And if they were sinking at that point, the hosts hit the bottom a couple of overs later. Ben Duckett had already sliced Mitchell McClenaghan to deep point but when Mitchell dismissed both Middlebrook and Spriegel in the 18th over the game was up.
All that was left was for Olly Stone to fall to Jack Shantry as the Steelbacks were bowled out for 131, 32 shy of their target.
Next up for the Steelbacks will be Nottinghamshire Outlaws, in their final home NatWest T20 Blast game of the season on Wednesday 23 July. Click Here to buy your tickets now.