T20 Finals Day: Road to the final - The North Group
Notts and Worcestershire have already played twice in this season's Blast. (Photo: Getty Images / Matthew Lewis)

T20 Finals Day: Road to the final - The North Group

Nottinghamshire and Worcestershire meet in the first semi-final at Edgbaston on Saturday as both sides go in search of their second T20 crown.

harry-wright
Harry Wright

Plan your fancy dress, get the beers in and keep your fingers crossed it doesn't rain!

The Vitality Blast Finals Day is back at Edgbaston this Saturday, where four contenders will be gunning for the Vitality Blast title after a campaign that started way back on Thursday July 18.

The last six winners of the competition have come from the north group, with four of those being all-north finals.

Arguably the two best sides at finals day go head to head in the first semi-final at 11:00am BST when Nottinghamshire Outlaws take on 2018 runners-up Worcestershire Rapids.

Worcestershire Rapids

Road to the final - P14 W6 L5 NR3 PTS 15

The Rapids picked up where they left off in 2018 this time around as they beat Nottinghamshire by 28 runs on the opening day of the campaign, Moeen Ali's four wickets coming after Ed Barnard had smashed 42 not out from 20 balls.

The Birmingham derby, at New Road, was abandoned without a ball bowled before a the Rapids suffered a A 21-run DLS loss to Lancashire Lightning.

Successful chases against Derbyshire Falcons, Durham Jets and Yorkshire Vikings followed as Wayne Parnell's unbeaten 81 against Derbyshire was surpassed by a 46-ball 86* from Martin Guptill in the second, including ten maximums.

However, it was Riki Wessels doing the real damage. 74 in the chase against Durham was followed by 91 against Yorkshire and Worcester were on fire.

That took the Rapids to four wins, one loss and one no result from the opening six games, but they were only to win two of the next eight as they stumbled into the quarter-finals.

Defeats by Leicestershire Foxes and the Falcons sandwiched another NR against Northants, whilst a three-run win against Durham Jets was far from convincing.

Their final win came against Birmingham Bears on a Friday night at Edgbaston. Set 185 for victory, Wessels, Guptill and Ali made light work of the total as they raced to 188-1 from 18.4 overs, Moeen's 85 not out accompanied by 65 from Wessels.

All-but qualified from that point onwards, their two defeats and one NR from their final three games proved not to be costly, but they did go into the quarter-final lacking momentum...

Nottinghamshire Outlaws

Road to the final - P14 W6 L4 NR4 PTS 16

The Nottinghamshire Outlaws have flattered to deceive for far too long. Winners in 2017, completing the double (including the Royal London One-Day Cup), the Outlaws have only reached the final on one other occasion, all the way back in 2006.

Peter Moores' men notched just one point from their opening two games as their trip to Yorkshire was abandoned after their opening day defeat to Worcestershire.

Their next two outings proved fruitful however, chasing 155 comfortably to beat Northamptonshire Steelbacks and then racking up 198 against the Falcons, Ben Duckett and Alex Hales both scoring half-centuries.

A rain-affected defeat to Leicestershire Foxes halted their progress, but they were soon back on track with a 71-run demolishing of Birmingham Bears thanks to half-centuries from Tom Moores, Joe Clarke and three wickets each from Luke Wood and Matthew Carter.

Inconsistency began to creep in as a loss to Lancashire was proceeded by a second victory over Birmingham before two more NRs against Durham and Derbyshire.

A brace of wins including an enthralling three-run win over Yorkshire and more runs from Hales and Duckett in a victory over Leicestershire secured their quarter-final spot, despite suffering a heavy by Durham in their final match, bowled out for a lacklustre 124.

The Final Eight

Nottinghamshire Outlaws v Middlesex 

Nottinghamshire's quarter-final looked set for a blockbuster. They took on Middlesex, a team littered with the stars of AB de Villiers, Eoin Morgan, Dawid Malan, Steven Finn and Toby Roland-Jones.

It was to be men against boys.

They strangled Middlesex to 43-4, including the wicket of de Villiers for just 11, but the visitors still posted a competitive total of 160-8... or so it looked.

16.2 overs later, that proved not so competitive. Hales and Chris Nash, in his first game of the tournament after shoulder surgery, tore Middlesex's bowling unit to shreds. The pair hit 16 fours and 8 sixes, Hales' 83 not out coming from 47 balls, whilst Nash's 53-ball 74 hardly came at snail's pace.

Their ten-wicket win sent them into finals day with everyone looking out for this destructive Notts' batting line-up.

Sussex Sharks v Worcestershire Falcons

The Rapids headed south to take on the table-topping Sussex Sharks in a repeat of the 2018 final.

On a good wicket at Hove with small boundaries, runs were aplenty.

Phil Salt's 40-ball 72 set the tone for the hosts as they left Worcestershire requiring 185 for victory.

The key moment came when Ali was on five. Looking to uppercut over the head of Alex Carey, the England all-rounder didn't quite connect, but Carey fluffed his lines.

Ali went on to smash 121 not out from 60 balls, including eight fours and 11 sixes. He well and truly made the Sharks pay, as Wessels once again was in the runs with 47.

Worcestershire's win sent them to Finals Day, leaving Sussex to watch on. 

These two sides are very similar. Destructive batting line-ups, ruthless opening partnerships, tricky, clever seam bowlers and quality in the spin department. These two should get Finals Day off to a cracker. 

 

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