WORCESTERSHIRE Rapids’ eight-game unbeaten run in the NatWest T20 Blast came to an end when Lancashire Lightning – featuring England hero Andrew Flintoff – won by 50 runs in the North Group top-of-the-table clash at New Road.
The Rapids faced a daunting target of 230 in a match which saw the return to action in front of a 4,000 crowd for the legendary Flintoff.
But the hosts also peppered the boundary boards during an opening stand of 90 in nine overs between in-form skipper Daryl Mitchell and Richard Oliver.
Mitchell hammered 46 off 28 balls with one six and six fours and was only just short of his fourth 50 in the last five T20 Blast innings when he was stumped off a wide from the bowling of Steven Croft.
Oliver hit two sixes and three fours in his 29-ball 44 before he sliced Croft to backward point with the total on 132.
The early momentum could not be maintained and Flintoff claimed his first wicket when bowling Tom Kohler-Cadmore for nine.
Ross Whiteley (3) was bowled by Junaid Khan but Colin Munro hit a quick-fire 28 before being bowled by former Worcestershire paceman Kabir Ali.
Alexei Kervezee (6) and Ben Cox (6) fell in the pursuit of an increasingly high run-rate as the Rapids closed on 179-7.
Steve Rhodes’ side will now look to put this rare setback behind them when they take on Birmingham Bears at Edgbaston on Friday.
Worcestershire had collected 14 points from the previous eight matches courtesy of six wins and successive wash-outs against Nottinghamshire Outlaws and Yorkshire Vikings.
But they came up against a Lancashire side who registered their highest ever T20 score thanks to some powerful hitting from Joss Buttler and Ashwell Prince.
Lancashire were put into bat and Tom Smith set the tone for their innings with 30 off 20 balls.
Saeed Ajmal ended Smith’s innings when he came down the wicket and was stumped by Cox with the total on 36.
Prince and Karl Brown added 60 in six overs before the latter, on 29, sliced a delivery from Munro into the hands of Chris Russell.
England one-day player Buttler reached his 50 off 26 balls but then Brett D’Oliveira ended his innings on 55 with a fine catch.
Buttler hit a delivery from Munro to deep mid-wicket but D’Oliveira, at full stretch, palmed the ball back into play before he crossed the ropes and caught the rebound.
Buttler and Prince had shared a stand of 93 in seven overs.
D’Oliveira also had a hand in the dismissal of Prince, fourth out for 68 with the total on 198 in the 19th over from Jack Shantry.
Prince was run out attempting a second run by the throw of D’Oliveira running in from the cover boundary.
Saeed was Worcestershire’s most economical bowler with 1-34 from four overs.