Spin strangles Nottinghamshire
Worcestershire 163 for 6 (Kervezee 43) beat Nottinghamshire 139 for 9 (Patel 41, Russell 3-32) by 24 runs
Worcestershire's opening two matches suggested they were no more likely to be a force in T20 this season than in any of the previous 11, in which they have never progressed beyond the quarter-finals and reached that stage only three times. This result is something of an upset, then, given Nottinghamshire's position as one of the tournament favourites.
On a pitch of no particular pace, two of Worcestershire's three spinners went for a little over five runs per over and Jack Shantry's medium pace seamers were only a little less economical and none of Nottinghamshire's impressive array of batsmen could impose themselves enough and from the third over onwards the required run-rate of just over eight an over began to drift away from them.
Alex Hales made 39 from 34 balls and Samit Patel 41 from 37, however it needed a partnership to provide the momentum needed for meaningful acceleration but wickets fell at crucial moments, the most vital one probably that of Riki Wessels, who gave Brett D'Oliveira, the young legspinner, a deserved wicket for some fine bowling under pressure.
Wessels and Patel had put in 35 for the fourth wicket and with 59 to get at the beginning of the 16th over a run of boundaries would have tipped the scales in favour of the home side. But at that point Wessels chipped the ball rather tamely to Ross Whiteley at long-off and three wickets in the next two overs as Nottinghamshire's hitting veered towards the desperate effectively ended their hopes.
Patel's innings ended in the 19th over when he miscued Saeed Ajmal to be caught at third man.
The steady accumulation achieved by Alexei Kervezee and Ross Whiteley, putting on 62 in 46 balls for the fifth Worcestershire wicket turned out, in the end, to be vital.
Asked to bat first after Nottinghamshire won the toss, the visiting side got off to a flyer thanks to a loose opening over from Luke Fletcher, giving the left-handers Moeen Ali and Richard Oliver too much width and conceding three fours in his first four balls. Fletcher had the last word, though, producing a straight one of yorker length with his sixth ball to bowl Oliver.
The over was a lesson to the Nottinghamshire attack to bowl straight and at 46 for 3 Worcestershire's yield from the Powerplay overs was less than it might have been. Andy Carter claimed two important wickets too, having Daryl Mitchell caught behind and Ali, having hit 28 off 19 balls, taken at extra cover when he swatted a short ball high into the air.
The seventh over changed the picture somewhat as Colin Munro, unable to get going against the seamers, went after Patel's left-arm spin to sudden profit, hitting three sixes in the over, the first from a reverse sweep, the third parried back into play by Wessels, from behind the rope, to no avail.
Munro did not have many more opportunities but Patel did not appear again and the New Zealander came unstuck against the junior spinner, Sam Wood, after getting little change from Fletcher and Steven Mullaney, top-edging another attempted reverse sweep, which flew over Chris Read's head and was well caught by Carter, running around from backward square leg.
Any hope of a grandstand finish from Kervezee and Whiteley was stymied when both were out in consecutive balls in the 19th as Ajmal Shahzad deceived the former with a slower ball, inducing a catch lofted to long-off, then hit the stumps with the next as Whiteley swung across it. Yet ultimately, to the disappointment of the majority in a near-7,000 crowd, they had done enough anyway.