Worcestershire 184 for 1 (Guptill 86*, Wessels 74) beat Durham 181 for 8 (Lees 44, Handscomb 37) by nine wickets
Opening pair Martin Guptill and Riki Wessels bludgeoned holders Worcestershire Rapids to a nine-wicket victory over Durham in the Vitality Blast as the home side made a triumphant return to cricket at Blackfinch New Road.
Wessels and Guptill made short work of the target of 182 as they galloped to half-centuries off just 20 and 18 balls respectively.
Even allowing for the short Cathedral side boundary, it was an astonishing display of hitting by the duo and thrilled a 3,800-strong crowd.
The Durham attack were powerless to stem the tide of sixes and fours as the hundred came up in the seventh over.
Liam Trevaskis conceded 24 runs in the eighth over as the Rapids raced to their second Blast win of the campaign.
The partnership was worth 148 in just 8.5 overs when Wessels, having made 74 off 29 balls with five sixes and eight fours, lofted Brydon Carse to mid off.
Guptill continued to pepper the boundary exactly two weeks after he had been on the losing side with New Zealand in the ICC World Cup final against England in dramatic circumstances and ended 86 not out. He finished the game in just 12.1 overs with his 11th six – off Trevaskis – and also hit three fours in his 31-ball knock.
Worcestershire had been forced to move to Kidderminster’s Chester Road ground for their Specsavers County Championship matches with Sussex and Derbyshire after their headquarters were flooded in mid-June.
The Rapids opted to bowl and Durham opener D’Arcy Short made a quickfire 23 but then turned a free-hit delivery from Pat Brown to mid wicket, set off for a risky single and failed to beat Rapids skipper Brett D’Oliveira’s direct hit.
Ben Raine perished in the next over when he came down the wicket to Dillon Pennington and nicked through to keeper Ben Cox. It became three wickets in three overs when Scott Steel sliced Wayne Parnell to Ross Whiteley at cover.
His dismissal brought in Durham’s new signing, Peter Handscomb, who has replaced fellow Australian Cameron Bancroft as one of the club’s overseas players.
Handscomb is available for both Blast and Championship fixtures for the rest of Durham’s season after playing just one World Cup match – Australia’s semi-final defeat to England.
Durham director of cricket, Marcus North, said: “Peter is a well-known player across all formats of the game, so it is a great to be welcoming him to Chester le Street. He will add something extra to the dressing room as we look to push on for the rest of the season.”
Handscomb and Alex Lees set about repairing the early damage and brought up the half-century stand in six overs.
Lees was in a particularly aggressive mood and his 44 off 31 balls included three sixes before he gave Pennington the charge and was bowled to end a stand of 75 in eight overs with Handscomb.
Handscomb scored 37 off 28 balls before he eventually perished at long off to Guptill off Brown on his return to the attack for the 17th over.
Brown struck again in the same over when Jack Burnham picked out Whiteley at deep mid-wicket before Trevaskis was lbw to Parnell.
Meanwhile, rain forced the other two North Group matches – Lancashire Lightning versus Derbyshire Falcons at Derby, and Northamptonshire against Yorkshire at Wantage Road – to be abandoned without a ball being bowled.
Derbyshire are next in action at Worcester on Wednesday with Lancashire taking on Durham at Chester-Le-Street on Friday, the same day Northants entertain Derbyshire and Yorkshire return to Headingley to face Worcestershire.