Gloucestershire 197 for 3 (Dent 60) beat Worcestershire 175 for 8 by 22 runs
Chris Dent justified his recall in the Gloucestershire Vitality Blast side after a lengthy absence with a match-winning knock and two crucial interventions in the field during a 22-run success over Worcestershire Rapids at Blackfinch New Road.
Dent, the captain of Gloucestershire’s red-ball side, had registered a first-ball duck in his first T20 appearance for four years against Glamorgan at Bristol on Saturday.
But his return, effectively to fill the gap at the top of the innings left by Michael Klinger’s retirement, reaped handsome dividends.
His 60 off 33 balls laid the foundations for Gloucestershire’s first league win of the campaign and he also played a key part in the dismissal of Hamish Rutherford and Riki Wessels when the Rapids replied.
In contrast the Rapids, winners of the competition in 2018 and runners-up last summer, have only one point from a wash-out at Glamorgan to show from their opening three matches.
Pat Brown, the Rapids leading wicket-taker in the competition for the past two years, was given permission by the ECB to play after being a reserve for England’s T20I series versus Pakistan.
It was Brown’s first appearance for his County since he sparkled during Blast finals day at Edgbaston 11 months ago – and his first senior appearance in any cricket for nine months. He looked ring rusty and conceded 57 in his four overs.
Gloucestershire opted to bat on the same wicket used for the Rapids opening home game against Northamptonshire Steelbacks 48 hours earlier.
Dent raced to his half century off just 25 deliveries with Worcestershire powerless to halt the left hander.
The home side opened their attack with part-time slow bowlers Jake Libby and Daryl Mitchell – a different ploy to against the Steelbacks when all-seam and pace was employed during the entire powerplay.
But, although Libby conceded just four runs, Dent then took centre stage with a barrage of boundaries including a straight six off Dillon Pennington.
A single off Brown brought up Dent’s half century out of 57 and he continued to dominate a stand of 80 with Miles Hammond – the best for the first wicket in T20 cricket against Worcestershire.
Leg spinner Brett D’Oliveira made the breakthrough when Dent holed out to Worcestershire T20 captain Ed Barnard at cover.
Hammond and new batsman Ian Cockbain maintained the momentum by adding 56 in six overs.
Pennington brought some temporary respite for the Rapids as Cockbain (28) and Hammond – 48 off 38 balls – departed in the space of three deliveries in the 15th over.
But new batsmen Ryan Higgins (30 not out off 17 balls) and T20 captain Jack Taylor (27 not out off 16 balls) ensured a formidable total for their side.
Brown conceded 22 in the final over of the innings including successive sixes by Taylor.
When Worcestershire launched their reply, Hamish Rutherford showed the same attacking intent as Dent in launching an even more spectacular start to proceedings.
The second over of the innings from Matt Taylor cost 25 runs – including six over long on from Rutherford – who reached off just 14 balls.
He then holed out to a fine low catch by Dent at long on off David Payne but his opening partner Wessels, and Jack Haynes continued in the same vein.
A straight six by Haynes off Higgins meant the Rapids powerplay had produced 79 runs and laid the ideal platform for the remainder of the innings.
But Worcestershire then lost two crucial wickets in quick succession with Haynes (23) lbw sweeping at Tom Smith and Wessels (30) lofting Graeme van Buuren towards the long on boundary only for Dent on the rope to grasp the ball and then off load to Hammond to complete the catch.
Smith struck again as Jake Libby (12) lofted into the hands of Jack Taylor at widish mid off and D’Oliveira (26) perished in similar fashion off Higgins.
The run rate started to climb and Payne capitalized as Ben Cox (4) fell on the mid-wicket boundary and Barnard (10) was bowled before Ross Whiteley (25) was run out as the Rapids closed on 175 for 8.