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The tournament that started way back on July 18th is finally coming to its conclusion today. Worcestershire Rapids became the first team to qualify for the grand finale followed by Essex Eagles who managed to run past Derbyshire Falcons quite comfortably in the other finals. The two teams are now set to lock horns in the finale, beginning in a few minutes from now, is to be played at the same venue as the two semifinals. Both the teams are coming off remarkable wins and the grand tournament is expected to get a grand conclusion with a cracker of a contest on Satuday night.
Worcestershire Rapids pulled off a victory at Edgbaston that even they couldn't have imagined going into the last over of the match. It has been a rarity that six or less runs have been defended in the final over of a T20 contest and Worcestershire's semifinal against the Outlaws was one such occasion.
The Rapids themselves appeared to be surprised at the end of the match and the surprise was perhaps even more than the devastation of Nottinghamshire Outlaws. Worcestershire's total of 147 batting first was at least twenty runs short of where it needed to be and hence it proved - for most part of the second innings.
While Worcestershire's batting couldn't do much as almost all of them perished in a bid to score quickly, bowlers did a terrific job of keeping Rapids in the business despite defending a relatively low total. Wayne Parnell who had a forgetful game till the 19th over bowled a last over that he'll probably remember for the rest of his life. Barring Moeen Ali's and Ross Whiteley's cameos, there was hardly anything of weight from Worcestershire's batting unit and they'll be looking to rectify this going into the final.
The Rapids are the defending champions and considering how well they've done in the knockouts up until now, it wouldn't be surprising if they end up winning the title two times in a row.
Riki Wessels, Hamish Rutherford, Moeen Ali, WD Parnell, Ben Cox, Ross Whiteley, Ed Barnard, Brett D Oliveira, Daryl Mitchell, Patrick Brown, Charlie Morris.
The fans witnessed epic defense of the small total in the first semi-final, Essex defended a total of similar magnitude in the second match of the day. Essex Eagles got off to a flying start with Tom Westley and Cameron Delport combining to score 78 runs for the first wicket.
Just when the Eagles were looking to launch an assault, thanks to a terrific start, Derbyshire bowlers bounced back as Alex Hughes picked up two important wickets in quick succession. Although a partnership between Ravi Bopara and Adam Wheather kept the Eagles in business, the duo could take the Eagles to only a 160-run total.
While the total never looked unchaseable, more so after the start the Falcons got off to, the Eagles' bowlers did exceedingly well to keep Derbyshire out of reach of the 160-run total. Simon Harmer, who returned with the impressive figures of 19 for 4 in his four overs was the pick of their bowlers. He was ably supported by ASS Nijjar who dismissed three Derbyshire batsmen.
Tom Westley, C Delport, Adam Wheater, Dan Lawrence, RN ten Doeschate, RS Bopara, Paul Walter, SR Harmer, Aron Nijjar, Aaron Beard, Samuel Cook.
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Both sides would have had a fair idea of how the surface is going to behave and will certainly have a strategy already in place. Having said that, it's the execution that is going to be important. Worcestershire's campaign this year has almost been a replica of their last year's campaign and will be looking to end on the same note as well. With Essex Eagles coming off a remarkable win in their semifinal, the challenge is certainly not going to be easy. There's almost nothing to choose between the two sides on paper and the team that handles the pressure well will become the title holders. It's Worcestershire's second appearance in grand finale in two consecutive editions of the tournament and considering how they've done in their last few matches, they are our pick to lift the coveted trophy tonight.
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