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Worcestershire get off the mark in style

Highlights from Milton Keynes

Worcestershire recorded their first victory in the Royal London One-Day Cup as they beat Northants Steelbacks by 88 runs at Milton Keynes.

It was a professional performance by the visitors who battled away to record a decent total of 274 for nine and then defended it with some ease as the hosts wilted.

As a result, both sides, who had opposite fortunes in their openers, have one win from their two outings.

Having been put in, Worcestershire made a scratchy start as they lost three relatively cheap wickets in the opening 20 overs.

David Willey got rid of Richard Oliver and Daryl Mitchell while Muhammad Azhar Ullah saw off Alexei Kervezee and when Tom Kohler-Cadmore chipped James Middlebrook to midwicket, the score was 84 for four.

Tom Fell and Ross Whiteley then shared a fifth-wicket partnership of 94, the former happy to coast along while the latter was more aggressive.

Both fell to Steven Crook, Fell for a 93-ball 72 and Whiteley for 52 from 60 deliveries, and their departures suggested a lower-than-average total was going to be posted. 

Joe Leach celebrates a wicket during Worcestershire's convincing victory over Northants Steelbacks at Milton Keynes

But the lower order added 86 to the total in the last 10 overs, a burst that enabled the score to be pushed out to a more respectable 274 for nine.

This will have looked a long way off when the first half-a-dozen overs finished with Richard Levi, Adam Rossington and Kyle Coetzer all gone and by the time the powerplay had gone, Matt Spriegel had also fallen.

Crook, with 23, and Ben Duckett offered some timely resistance but it didn't last too long before the former chipped Joe Leach to mid-on.

This scenario was repeated as Willey joined Duckett for a productive period only for the all-rounder to hoist Mitchell's first ball to deep midwicket to go for 29.

At the halfway point, with Duckett out for a List A-best 49, 135 runs remained to be collected and when Graeme White gave long-on catching practice off Mitchell there was only one winner.

Speaking afterwards, Worcestershire captain Mitchell said: "It was nice to get the victory but I thought we were below par for our standards which is the sign of a decent side.

"We were below par with the bat, I thought it was a 300 pitch. 

"These 10.30am starts, lose the toss and getting stuck in it always does a bit and we lost a few early wickets and I thought we threw a few away in the back end of the middle period which meant we weren't able to utilise the fielding restrictions.

"Getting those early wickets was a key thing. The lads bowled pretty well up front and bowled nice, tight lines and managed to make them play a lot."

As for the Steelbacks, head coach David Ripley didn't like what he saw from his charges.

He commented: "It was the old game of two halves.

"At 25 overs they were 84-4 and I was disappointed that they ended up getting 270, we should've kept that to 230.

"We were well ahead of the rate at the halfway stage but were eight wickets down and it's impossible to win from there.

"There was some good stuff in there but when we were bad we was awful and it was quite a heavy defeat."

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