Notts Outlaws face a stern test in the first of two NatWest T20 Blast fixtures this weekend with a trip to table-topping Worcestershire Rapids at New Road tonight.
The resurgent Outlaws have jumped up the table following victories over Leicestershire and Derbyshire, as well as excellent results against Middlesex and Somerset in the LV= County Championship.
"This is a massive two days, Worcestershire and Yorkshire (who arrive at Trent Bridge tomorrow) are two of the best teams in the group,” said Mick Newell, Nottinghamshire's Director of Cricket.
“It’ll be a huge challenge for us and we’re riding a bit of a wave at the moment, so we’ll be looking to continue that.
“We’ve played poorly in three games but we’ve taken them on board, readjusted our sights and the batting order.
“We now have a slightly different mindset in going hard at the top of the order and moving Riki up to three has been a major bonus.
“Now that we’ve taken these changes on board and performances have improved, we’ll be looking to maintain that.”
Notts Outlaws will welcome two additions to a 13-man squad to face the Rapids, overseas signing James Franklin will be joined by Jake Ball, whose return to fitness continues quickly.
They are added to a side in growing form, with a resurgent Riki Wessels now among the top-scoring batsmen in the competition. After losing Michael Lumb, Phil Jaques has stepped ably into the breach, working well with Alex Hales at the top of the order.
“Phil is a very experienced player, he knows how to play every form of cricket,” said Newell.
“With the injury to Lumby, a position in the team opened up and we’ve been lucky to have had him for as long as we have.”
Worcestershire Rapids top the North group of the NatWest T20 Blast after an excellent start and a high run rate. After winning at Trent Bridge in Notts’ second fixture, the Rapids, spearheaded by mystery-spinner Saeed Ajmal, will be firmly in he Outlaws’ sights for the return leg.
“They’re playing very well, so will be full of confidence too,” said Newell.
“We have to try and make sure that the excellent home form we’ve found continues when we travel away.
“We’ll need to take our game to Worcester and try and dominate them, try to play with the confidence we have. We should be going everywhere knowing we have the capability to win.
“We’ll have to assess the pitch, and his ability on it, which can vary from a very high skill level to lesser if there isn’t a lot of spin.
“He’s an excellent player, and they’ll rely on his performance as any team would.”
Notts Outlaws squad to face Worcestershire Rapids (from): Alex Hales, Phil Jaques, Riki Wessels, Samit Patel, James Taylor, Chris Read, Steven Mullaney, Sam Wood, Ajmal Shahzad, Like Fletcher, Harry Gurney, James Franklin, Jake Ball.
Worcestershire Rapids squad to face Notts Outlaws (from): Mitchell, Oliver, Kohler-Cadmore, Munro, Kervezee, Whiteley, Cox, D'Oliveira, Shantry, Ajmal, Russell, Andrew.
BBC Radio Nottingham will be providing live ball-by-ball commentary from New Road on Friday or follow the links on the BBC Sport website for on-line coverage.
Trent Bridge Live will feature a live ball-by-ball scorecard and blog for all Notts Outlaws fixtures.
The Outlaws return to Trent Bridge to face Yorkshire Vikings on Saturday. With tickets moving quickly and discounted prices when bought in advance (by midnight on Friday 27 June), don't miss the chance to witness the excitement of Twenty20 cricket at Trent Bridge and secure your seats now.
Notts Outlaws NatWest T20 Blast fixture and ticket information:
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