sport

Oliver shines in Worcs win

Worcestershire secured their second T20 Blast victory of the season as a brilliant half-century from Richard Oliver helped them beat Northants.

Moeen Ali and Chris Russell each picked up two wickets as Northamptonshire, after a promising start, spluttered their way to 134 for seven.

Moeen and Oliver then got Worcestershire off to a flying start, scoring 87 runs for the first wicket, before Oliver and company chased down the total with five wickets and 35 balls to spare.

Northamptonshire's decision to bat first initially appeared to be a good one as David Willey dispatched Ali for six from the third ball of the innings before launching successive maximums off the bowling of Russell in the third over.

Willey and Richard Levi nudged the Steelbacks past 50 before the former was caught by home captain Daryl Mitchell off the bowling of Shantry having scored 34 from 18 deliveries. Levi followed his opening partner back to the pavilion in the ninth over when, on 27, he was caught by Russell to give Moeen his first wicket of the match.

David Sales was the third man out when he was trapped lbw by Saeed Ajmal on five in the 12th over with Northamptonshire on 90 for three and Steven Crook and Ben Cox were dismissed in successive overs to leave Northamptonshire on 107 for five by the end of the 15th over.

Matthew Spriegel, with just a single to his name, holed out to Mitchell to earn Russell his second wicket in the 17th over before captain Kyle Coetzer, who patiently made his way to 31 runs from 34 balls, perished in the penultimate over when he was run out as the Steelbacks were limited to 134.

Worcestershire began their run chase impressively, Moeen hitting a four and a six as the hosts reached 21 for no loss at the end of the second over. He and Oliver plundered boundaries at will as the Rapids sped to 60 for no loss in the fourth over.

Moeen became the first Worcestershire batsman to fall - caught by Spriegel off the bowling of Graeme White - in the ninth over with his side on 87 for one.

Having passed 50 in the ninth over, 24-year-old Oliver continued to put the Northamptonshire bowlers to the sword, hitting a four and a six from successive White deliveries in the 11th over as Worcestershire closed in on their target.

Not even the loss of Mitchell and Colin Munro, to James Middlebrook and White respectively, could stop the home side in their tracks and they were within four runs of their target when Oliver's innings came to an end on 77 when he was bowled by Crook.

New batsman Ross Whiteley then hit his first ball for four to seal victory for Worcestershire and consign Northamptonshire to their first Twenty20 defeat of the season.