Super Foxes beat defending champions

BLAST 7 | Leicestershire Foxes 152 beat Worcestershire Rapids 119 by 33 runs

SCORECARD | Available from Cricinfo HERE

POINTS | Worcestershire Rapids 0, Leicestershire Foxes 2

REACTION | To follow

REPORT | Colin Ackermann and Arron Lilley had superb all-round games but it was a real team effort as Leicestershire Foxes landed an important Vitality Blast win at reigning champions Worcestershire Rapids.

Lilley struck 31 off just 12 balls while Ackermann anchored with 37 off 30 in the middle as the Foxes put 152 on the board.

The game was a fine spectacle in a non-conventional sense; an exhibition of tight bowling and tremendous fielding where the in-form Rapids were good, and the Foxes even better.

Will Davis burst the door open with three for 24 while Gavin Griffiths (three for 23) also returned career-best figures.

Spin triumvirate Ackermann (4-0-15-1), Callum Parkinson (4-0-21-2) and Lilley (2-0-11-1) snared four for 47 from their ten overs, while Dieter Klein played a key role in an old-fashioned Foxes squeeze, sending down a maiden to dangerman Callum Ferguson at a crucial stage of proceedings.

The Foxes were unchanged and batting first again after Ferguson won the toss on a dry, humid, but dull afternoon at Blackfinch New Road.

Two came off a tight, quick opening over from Dillon Pennington, but the scoreboard moved in the second as five wides was followed by a delicate touch from Mark Cosgrove (9, 10b) that raced down to vacant third man.

But a wicket fell in the third as Cosgrove’s on-drive from the bowling of Pennington was quite spectacularly held by Ferguson - diving and one-handed with a reverse right palm.

Harry Dearden got off the mark with a brace of consecutive fours off Pennington, who then did well to get underneath a stroke from Harry Swindells (1, 6b) that appeared set to be heading for the fine-leg boundary. It was the first of four wickets for Wayne Parnell.

Lilley injected impetus by steering three consecutive fours careering through the off-side as 15 came off the fifth, and he greeted Pat Brown’s arrival by glancing to fine-leg for a further four.

The all-rounder finished the powerplay (55 for one) in some style, hammering a straight six that hit the balcony of the View Stand.

Lilley then steered Ed Barnard beyond the grasp of backward point but his super innings ended when striking the seamer to Ross Whiteley at deep mid-wicket.

Suddenly a good start had been checked when Dearden (14, 15b) hit Daryl Mitchell’s very first delivery back to the bowler.

Ackermann and Hill rebuilt with a valuable stand worth 49. They faced some tight bowling from Barnard and Mitchell, and there was only one boundary for a while with Hill scooping Barnard.

The skipper then drove and swept Mitchell for four and six respectively in the 12th to get the board moving again.

A fine sweep from Hill beat a despairing dive when George Rhodes entered the attack but the partnership ended when the batsman struck Barnard towards long-on. Ferguson ran around to take a decent catch.

Barnard finished with fine figures (4-0-22-2), and Mitchell (4-0-29-1) also completed his spell with the Foxes at 122 for five with four to go.

Aadil hit a huge six towards the climbing wall positioned in the car park at the Diglis End and also nicked another four before a flurry of wickets.

No. 7 Aadil (18, 11b) was bowled by Parnell, while Parkinson (1, 3b) and Ackermann were both caught by Rhodes off Brown at deep square and cover respectively. The second of those efforts was yet another example of fine fielding.

Klein (4, 4b) struck a Parnell full toss to Riki Wessels at extra, and Davis (2, 3b) was yorked by the left armer, who finished with four for 25.

The Rapids initially started well as Guptill cracked a couple of maximums while Wessels just cleared mid-on to pick up a four.

But Griffiths held his nerve to have Guptill (17, 14b) nicely caught by Klein at mid-wicket, the fielder circling underneath the ball to take a decent catch.

Ferguson, who was in scintillating form against the Foxes last season, sent his first delivery racing through cover point for four in a chilling reminder of that exceptional 50-over innings of 192 on this very ground.

Davis then landed a brace of key blows when Wessels (12, 12b) and Parnell (0, 2b) were both caught behind.

Neither were normal snicks; the ball looped off Wessels’ glove on the way through as the batsman attempted to sweep a slower delivery, while Parnell’s huge skier was safely pouched.

Pressure built and told. Klein followed it up with a maiden bowled at good pace to Ferguson (7, 12b), the seventh went for four off Ackermann, and Parkinson cashed in when the Australian was held by Dearden running in from the mid-wicket boundary.

The rate had reached 10.3 by halfway, and although Cox hit consecutive fours at the start of the 11th, Davis responded to have the dangerous Whiteley (4, 8b) caught by Swindells at deep backward square.

Griffiths conceded only two singles from the 12th but some lusty blows from Barnard and Cox took 27 off the next two.

Suddenly the hosts were back in it but spin again proved fruitful. Cox (30, 29b) was bowled by Ackermann, Barnard (17, 14b) was superbly taken by Swindells in the deep off Parkinson, while Rhodes (5, 7b) struck Lilley’s first delivery to Parkinson on the 45.

The game was up when Pennington (4, 5b) and Mitchell (10, 12b) both skied Griffiths to Dearden at deep mid-wicket.

Leicestershire Foxes will look to build on the two points in two home games against Birmingham Bears (Wednesday) and Northants Steelbacks (Friday) this week.

FIGURES | Parkinson 4-0-21-2, Klein 3-1-23-0, Ackermann 4-0-15-1, Griffiths 3.2-0-23-3, Davis 3-0-24-3, Lilley 2-0-11-1

TEAM | Ackermann (capt), Swindells, Lilley, Cosgrove, Dearden, Hill (wk), Aadil, Klein, Parkinson, Davis, Griffiths

RAPIDS | Ferguson (capt), Wessels, Guptill, Parnell, Cox (wk), Whiteley, Barnard, Mitchell, Rhodes, Pennington, Brown

IMAGES | Thanks to John Mallett of Outside Off for providing the images throughout the game

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