WORCESTERSHIRE Rapids' top-four Vitality Blast hopes were dealt a blow last night after they came up short in their run chase by 34 runs at Old Trafford to Lancashire Lightning.

With four games remaining in the group stages, there is still much to play for with the Rapids now joined on 10 points by the Lightning – and only one point outside the top four.

Rapids' overseas duo Ish Sodhi and Ben Dwarshuis impressed with the ball for the Rapids, but Lancashire, with the aid of some late momentum from Rob Jones, still managed a par score of 159-6.

With a career-best 4-16, left-arm spinner Tom Hartley was the key performer for the Lightning in mid-innings, with Saqib Mahmood (4-25) inflicting the early and late breakthroughs.

Captain Ben Cox hit a bright and breezy 36, but the Rapids could not sustain the necessary pace and were dismissed for 125 in 18.3 overs.

Lancashire opted to bat first and openers Finn Allen and Keaton Jennings, the latter with 34, shared a streaky 52 inside the power play.

Ed Barnard tipped a Jennings pull for six off Dillon Pennington in the second over before three miscued aerial shots narrowly evaded fielders.

But pace off prospered for the Rapids, who prevented a boundary for 45 balls between the eighth and 15th overs.

New Zealand leg-spinner Ish Sodhi returned one for 24 from four, removing Jennings, and overseas colleague Ben Dwarshuis and Pennington struck twice apiece.

Australian left-arm seamer Dwarshuis had Steven Croft caught behind and Luke Wells caught at long-on in the 17th over, leaving the Lightning 122 for six.

But busy Jones and former Rapid loanee Luke Wood hit late sixes as 30 runs came off the last two overs, including 20 off the last from Charlie Morris.

Lancashire built on that momentum as Worcestershire fell to 36 for three in the sixth over of their chase.

Saqib Mahmood had Brett D’Oliveira brilliantly caught low down at cover by Wells in the second over - a wicket maiden - before getting Jake Libby caught off a miscue in the fifth.

Hartley then bowled Daryl Mitchell. But his key contribution came with the 10th over’s first two balls as he had Riki Wessels caught and bowled and Ross Whiteley lbw, leaving the visitors on the ropes at 59 for five.

He later had Ed Barnard caught at deep square-leg to record the third best figures by a Lancashire spinner in Blast history - 81 for six in the 14th.

Ben Cox’s meaty 36 briefly threatened a revival, but it was game over when he was bowled charging at Matthew Parkinson in the 16th, 106 for seven.

Mahmood then yorked Sodhi and Morris in the penultimate over to finish with four for 25 from 3.3 overs.

It was a blow to Rapids' top four hopes but given the topsy turvy nature of T20 cricket, there are likely to be more twists and turns before the qualifiers for the knockout stages are decided – with the Rapids very much in the hunt.

They will be looking for a change of fortune when they visit Derbyshire Falcons this evening.