Gloucestershire 181 for 4 (Dent 87) beat Worcestershire 151 for 9 (Higgins 4-34) by 30 runs
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 for 4 after being put in to bat. Ed Barnard took 3 for 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 for 9, their prospects of making the knockout stages all but over. Jake Libby top-scored with 33, but Ryan Higgins claimed 4 for 34 and Matt Taylor 2 for 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 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 for 4 in the 17th over, laid the foundations for a big score.
Chastened in defeat to Somerset a day earlier, 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 7 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 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 an unbroken stand of 33 in 3.3 overs for the fifth wicket with skipper Jack Taylor.
The writing was on the wall when Hamish Rutherford, Jack Haynes and Riki Wessels all departed inside six overs, Worcestershire limping to 36 for 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 midwicket as the visitors lurched to 109 for 6 in the 16th over. The outcome was already a foregone conclusion by the time Higgins removed Dillon Pennington and Ross Whiteley in quick succession.