CAPTAIN Moeen Ali felt Worcestershire Rapids produced a performance worthy of reigning Vitality Blast champions as they launched their defence in fine style with a 28-run win over Notts Outlaws at Trent Bridge.

Ed Barnard’s fine all-round performance — a T20 career-best 42 not out off 19 balls, the wicket of danger man Alex Hales and a stunning catch — earned him the man-of-the-match award.

But England ICC World Cup winner Moeen (4-18) also made a major impact in his first County appearance of the campaign, picking up four wickets for five runs in 11 balls.

Moeen said: “Where was that game won? The way Ed (Barnard) and Coxy (Ben Cox) finished off our innings gave us a bit of momentum and we bowled really well on that wicket. It suited our bowlers perfectly.

“Ed is a very good cricketer, one of quite a few in our team. He is a great all-rounder in our side. He bats, bowls and fields brilliantly.

“We’ve got a few guys who can do that and it always helps in T20 when you bat long and it is something we’ve been working on over the last couple of years.

“Are we feeling an extra expectation of being the holders? Definitely and Thursday night was a very good start.

“I’m going to say to the guys it was a performance of a side which won the competition last season.

“We have a lot of belief in our side, a lot of confidence, and are a team that is quietly confident. We try to do the right things as much as we can.

“We have different options with the ball which is important and Daryl Mitchell missed out on Thursday and he would have bowled really well on that wicket.

“We have a decent combination for these sort of wickets. We can get stuck on really flat wickets at times but we have batted well on those sort of wickets, the likes of Guppy (Martin Guptill) and Fergie (Callum Ferguson) who are very good batters up top.”

In terms of his own bowling, Moeen said: “I’m happy with the way the ball is coming out. I’ve been working with Saqlain (Mushtaq) quite a bit on my bowling.”

On a used wicket which was not straightforward for batting, Barnard lifted Rapids to an above-par 161-6.

Cox (21no from 19 balls) provided crucial support in an unbroken stand of 59 from just 30 balls.

When Notts batted, Barnard then picked up the prized wicket of Hales for 52 and produced a stunning catch in the deep to dismiss Jake Libby for 24.

It was the first of Moeen’s four dismissals and he cleaned up the middle to lower order to follow his 32 with the bat as Notts were restricted to 133-9.

Pat Brown (2-24 in four overs), fit-again Wayne Parnell (1-26 in four) and Dillon Pennington (1-19 in three) also played their part with the ball backed up by some superb fielding and catching.

With the bat, Riki Wessels scored 24 against his former side and fellow opener Martin Guptill, part of the New Zealand team who lost to England in the World Cup final, managed 27 off 24 balls.