Shan Masood delivered a master-class in elegant timing to set up Derbyshire Falcons for a six-wicket victory over Leicestershire Foxes at Derby.
The Falcons skipper scored 73 from 32 balls as they chased down the Foxes 181 for 6 down with eight balls to spare.
Aaron Lilley’s 67 from 41 balls had put the Foxes in a decent position but Masood’s brilliance led the way and despite a late wobble Brooke Guest with an unbeaten 29 from 19 balls took the Falcons to a third North Group victory.
The Foxes had given themselves a solid platform by batting selectively to score 53 in the powerplay for the loss of Scott Steel who cut George Scrimshaw over backward point for six before skying Hayden Kerr to mid on.
Aaron Lilley picked up the pace by driving Matt McKiernan for six and cutting the leg-spinner for four before carving Scrimshaw for another six in the eighth over.
With Rutherford working the ball into gaps on both sides of the wicket, the Foxes were 91 for 1 at the halfway point of their innings and Lilley reached an excellent 50 from 29 balls when he late cut Alex Hughes for his sixth four.
Rutherford moved to 35 from 28 balls, his highest score for the Foxes, before driving Mark Watt to Shan Masood at cover but Lilley maintained momentum by twice carving Scrimshaw for four in the 14th over.
McKiernan responded by conceding only four from the next and Scrimshaw struck twice in the 17th by using the short ball well to get rid of Lilley and Ben Mike off consecutive deliveries.
Alex Hughes kept up the pressure by trapping Rishi Patel lbw to become Derbyshire’s leading wicket taker in T20, restricting the Foxes to five from the 18th, and Colin Ackermann’s attempt at a big finish ended in the hands of cover.
But Lewis Hill drove and cut Hughes for four as the Foxes took 15 from the last over to post a competitive total.
Masood marked his 100th career T20 appearance by driving Steel over long on for six and pulling Naveen-ul-Haq for four before Luis Reece whipped Will Davis over the backward square leg boundary.
Masood’s timing and placement brought him consecutive fours off Naveen and he moved to an effortless 50 from 21 balls to leave the Falcons well placed on 76 without loss at the end of the powerplay.
The Foxes had to remove him to have a chance and after dispatching Callum Parkinson for two more fours, he miscued a pull off Ben Mike to deep midwicket.
The Falcons went into the last 10 overs needing only 75 but they lost Wayne Madsen when he failed to beat Mike’s throw from midwicket.
Leus du Plooy was bowled sweeping Callum Parkinson and the Foxes sensed an opening when Reece holed out to Rehan Ahmed in the 15th over.
But Guest and Hughes ran well between the wicket and after Hughes reverse swept Parkinson for six, Guest thumped Naveen for two fours to seal victory.
— Derbyshire CCC (@DerbyshireCCC) June 9, 2022
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The Falcons will be aiming to extend their Vitality Blast winning streak at Queen’s Park to four matches, when they take on Yorkshire Vikings to close out the BRM Solicitors Festival of Cricket, in association with Chesterfield Borough Council, on Saturday 18 June.