Hughes slays Welsh Dragons
Phil Hughes showed the Australia selectors what they are missing by lighting up Worcestershire’s Friends Life t20 campaign in a 19-run victory over the Welsh Dragons at New Road.
While his countrymen slumped to a 15-run defeat to England in the opening NatWest Series one-day international at Lord’s, the 23-year-old left-hander thrashed an unbeaten 87 from 57 balls as the Royals accelerated to 164 for five.
Hughes’ third half-century in four Twenty20 innings for his third English county proved to be decisive when the Dragons were pegged back to 145 for six despite an unbeaten 40 by Stewart Walters.
The Dragons' ploy in bowling first seemed to be paying off when they claimed two wickets in the opening three overs. Moeen Ali’s carve to point gave former Worcestershire paceman Simon Jones his first wicket at New Road in four years and then Vikram Solanki drove James Harris straight to cover.
Harris thus achieved the rare distinction of a wicket-maiden but the tide began to turn Worcestershire’s way when Hughes and fellow left-hander James Cameron took 17 runs from the seamer’s final over.
The third-wicket pair put on 75 in 10 overs before Walters held a good catch at long-off from Cameron for 31, but Hughes stepped up the pace with two sixes in an over to bring up a 39-ball fifty.
Jones completed figures of 3-29 when Mark Wallace held catches from Gareth Andrew and Alexei Kervezee in three balls but Hughes signed off with two more maximums, alongside seven fours in his highest innings in the shortest format.
For the Dragons to be in contention they needed to live up to their pre-tournament claim of having one of the stronger batting line-ups in the competition.
They started off at seven an over in the powerplay, only for wickets to fall as soon as Jack Shantry bowled Wallace for 25.
Moeen took 2-7 in his first 18 balls, but South African Chris Cooke hoisted three sixes in the off spinner’s final over as the visitors hinted at a spectacular recovery from a sorry-looking 57 for five.
A rapid stand of 52 with Walters reduced the target to 60 from five overs, but there was too much to do when Cooke was caught at long-on off David Lucas after making 32 from 14 balls.