By Tim Clarke 17/06 Updated: 17/06 21:48
A THRILLING century stand between Moeen Ali and Phil Hughes laid the platform for Worcestershire to secure a comfortable 47-run victory over Gloucestershire in the FP t20 at New Road on Sunday.
Moeen (82) and Hughes (78no) raced their way to a second wicket partnership of 100 off just 58 balls to help the Royals post a formidable 213-2 - their fourth highest ever Twenty20 total.
Jack Shantry then led the way with the ball for the hosts with a four wicket haul, including two wickets in successive balls, to rip the heart out of Gloucestershire's reply as the Gladiators were bowled out for 166 in the 19th over.
The victory was sweet revenge for Steve Rhodes' side coming exactly a week after they were thrashed by the same opponents in a 109-run defeat in the Clydesdale Bank 40. This was a vastly improved performance from Worcestershire who looked clinical throughout and punished Gloucestershire for a sloppy display in the field.
Moeen and Vikram Solanki got the Royals off to a flyer as they launched an early assault on the Gladiators attack and raced to 48 inside the first five overs, before Solanki missed a full toss off James Fuller and was bowled for 16.
Hughes though needed little time to hit his stride as he clubbed his first two balls for four and that set the tone for a rapid second wicket stand which saw Worcestershire pass 100 inside the first ten overs.
Not even Sri Lankan spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan could put the brakes on the Royals as he went for 27 off his four over spell with Moeen launching him into the Basil D'Oliveira stand for one his four sixes.
Hughes was given a life on 37 when Ed Young spilt a straightforward chance and the Australian made the visitors pay as he blasted nine fours and a six.
Moeen's brilliant innings of 82 off just 44 balls was finally ended when he was bowled by Kane Williamson to leave Worcestershire 148-2 in the 15th over but Hughes found a reliable ally in Gareth Andrew who launched some lusty blows with his Mongoose bat.
The all rounder thumped two fours and two sixes to finish unbeaten on 32 off 17 balls while Hughes reached 78 not out off 48 balls as Worcestershire closed on an imposing 213-2.
Gloucestershire needed to get off to a flyer to stand any chance of threatening the Royals' total and in Hamish Marshall they looked to have a man up to the task as some lusty blows caused the hosts an early headache.
But having lost Benny Howell for just two Andrew struck a crucial blow for his side as he had Marshall caught down the leg side with the first ball of his spell to end the New Zealander's assault of 43 off just 23 balls.
Ian Cockbain (1) lasted just two balls before he was run out by a brilliant direct hit from youngster Brett D'Oliveira to leave Gloucestershire rocking on 58-3.
Alex Gidman briefly threatened to spark a revival but any hope of a Gloucestershire victory disappeared in the tenth over as Shantry firstly shattered Gidman's stumps (16) before having Jack Taylor caught behind by Ben Scott first ball to reduce the visitors to 87-5.
Fuller survived the hat-trick ball but it was little more than a stay of execution for the Gladiators as Solanki took a stunning one handed catch on the boundary to dismiss Williamson (37) off Daryl Mitchell.
Fuller hit two massive sixes in a defiant late knock but once he had holed out to James Cameron off Dave Lucas the end came quickly, with Andrew bowling Dave Payne (2) to wrap up a convincing victory.
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