Moeen plays his part as Worces­ter­shire beat Sus­sex

The Independent - - Sport / Cricket - RORY DOL­LARD

Moeen Ali led un­der­dogs Worces­ter­shire to glory on their first ap­pear­ance at Vi­tal­ity Blast Fi­nals Day, with Ben Cox and Pat Brown shar­ing the spot­light in a rous­ing win over Sus­sex at a sold-out Edg­bas­ton.

Moeen be­gan the day in the head­lines af­ter claims he was called "Osama" by an un­named Aus­tralian player and ended it in ecstasy af­ter cap­tain­ing his county to a fa­mous five-wicket vic­tory.

The Eng­land all-rounder hit a vi­tal 41 as well as tak­ing three im­por­tant wick­ets in the fi­nal, but the plau­dits go equally to Brown, for a stun­ningly ef­fec­tive spell of four overs for 15 runs, and Cox who stood tall at the close with a match-win­ning 46 not out.

Cox stared down the much-vaunted Jofra Archer at the de­noue­ment, slam­ming the seamer for six and four in the penul­ti­mate over to cap a bril­liant knock.

All three of Worces­ter­shire's stars had al­ready turned in fine shows in the semi-fi­nal de­feat of Lan­cashire, Cox with an un­beaten half-cen­tury that gave a hint of things to come.

Sus­sex had set an un­der-pow­ered 157 for six but banked on their all-star at­tack tak­ing care of busi­ness. De­spite of­fer­ing due re­spect to Archer, Ty­mal Mills and Chris Jor­dan, Moeen and Joe Clarke kept the bound­aries com­ing as they reached 53 for nought in six overs.

Af­ter a wick­et­less pow­er­play Sus­sex needed re­sults from spin­ners Danny Briggs and Will Beer. The for­mer started in­aus­pi­ciously, flogged for six by Moeen, but the turn­ing ball soon be­gan to take ef­fect. From 61 with­out loss it was soon 82 for three. Briggs and wick­et­keeper Michael Burgess com­bined to see off Clarke for 33 via a thin edge and Brett D'Oliveira with a sharp stump­ing, while Beer made light work of Tom Fell.

Moeen was the key but he de­parted long be­fore the job was done, punch­ing Beer to long-off.

The Pears needed 49 for five overs, 42 from four and 31 from three but all the while Cox was po­si­tion­ing him­self.

Archer was the bowler to blink, hurl­ing six no-balls down leg, then watch­ing pas­sively as Cox smashed the free hit for six more and heaved the win­ning bound­ary to long leg.

Sus­sex had posted the high­est score of the day in their semi-fi­nal win over Som­er­set - 202 - but had to set­tle for 45 fewer against well-drilled Worces­ter­shire unit.

Nine­teen-year-old Brown, al­ready buoyed by his four for 21 in the semi, was the dif­fer­ence-maker. His four-overs, split be­tween the pow­er­play and the death, cost a miserly 15 runs as bats­men queued up to be bam­boo­zled by his 'knuckle ball' and reg­u­lar shifts in pace.

In all he banked 13 dot balls and leaked a soli­tary bound­ary. Moeen also per­formed a cru­cial role through the mid­dle, tak­ing three for 30.

Hav­ing al­ready picked off his Eng­land col­league Jos But­tler in game one, Moeen's at­tack­ing lines and nerve­less de­meanour again paid div­i­dends as he picked off the dan­ger­ous trio of Luke Wright, Del­ray Rawl­ins and David Wiese.

Wright had ear­lier hit the big­gest score in fi­nals day his­tory, 92, but was cleaned up for 33 when Moeen spun a de­liv­ery sharply into his off stump.

The Blast's lead­ing run-scorer Lau­rie Evans pro­vided the back­bone of the to­tal, carv­ing out a mea­sured 52 from 44 balls be­fore los­ing his cool - and his bails - with an ill-con­ceived lap sweep at Ed Barnard.

Mooen Ali cap­tained his county to a fa­mous five-wicket vic­tory (Getty)

Jos But­tler of Lan­cashire is bowled by Moeen Ali (Getty)

Ben Cox and Ed Barnard cel­e­brate af­ter se­cur­ing vic­tory (Getty Images)

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