WORCESTERSHIRE Rapids head into a crucial double-header to keep alive their slim hopes of reaching the NatWest T20 Blast quarter-finals.

Wins over Notts Outlaws and Durham Jets in the last three games have finally got the second-from-bottom County looking up the North Group table.

But Steve Rhodes’ side can ill afford to add to their five defeats if they are to stand any chance of finishing in the top four.

Rapids visit high-flying local rivals Birmingham Bears at Edgbaston tomorrow (7pm) before a key game at New Road with top-four hopefuls Northamptonshire Steelbacks on Saturday (2.30pm).

The County’s one defeat in the three-game block was suffered at Steelbacks last week when comfortably beaten by seven wickets at Wantage Road after being bowled out for 158.

But Rapids set 208-8 in the win at Outlaws’ Trent Bridge and 204-2 when chasing at home to Jets so will be looking for another run feast alongside a much-needed tighter bowling and fielding display.

Opener Joe Clarke starred against struggling Durham with a stunning 124 not out from 53 balls with 12 fours and eight sixes.

Director of cricket Rhodes said: “We got a lot of confidence when we were at Trent Bridge.

“The way we took on that very powerful side with seven internationals in there and defended when they looked pretty solid after their powerplay against us showed a good fighting spirit.

“That is why it was disappointing not to play quite as well as we could have done at Northampton the following evening.

“But we’ve picked it up now and Joe deserves huge credit.

“He definitely won the game for us against Durham and let’s hope we can gain confidence and take that into Edgbaston.”

Rapids look to reclaim the Norman Gifford Trophy in the return clash at Bears.

Worcestershire completed a T20 double over Bears last season but were thrashed by eight wickets at New Road in the opening game of this summer’s competition.

Rhodes added: “We look forward to a great occasion. The guys from the Black Country quite enjoy coming and supporting Worcestershire.

“It is a good ground and the new stand makes for a very special atmosphere. We are looking forward to taking them on.

“They are hot favourites but wouldn’t it be nice to turn the tables and beat them which we’ve done before at Edgbaston.

“We’ve got a good record there so we will give it a good crack and hopefully we will gain some confidence from the Durham game.

“It was nice to see a youngster (Clarke) smacking Durham around and winning the game for us.”

After playing Steelbacks the County revert to Specsavers County Championship action on Sunday when Sussex visit New Road (11am).

Second-placed Worcestershire will look to build on their promotion push with the visitors still eyeing up a top-two spot.