Moeen Ali’s majestic unbeaten century propelled Vitality Blast holders Worcestershire Rapids into the last four again as they repeated their win from last year’s final against Sussex Sharks.
Sussex seemed well-placed to take revenge for their 2018 defeat after setting the Rapids 185 at Hove, largely thanks to Phil Salt’s ferocious 72 from 40 balls.
But Moeen put the Sharks bowling to the sword, displaying superb timing as he unleashed a string of enormous sixes to register a career-best 121 not out off 60 balls and clinch victory by eight wickets.
Earlier Salt – who survived an initial scare when Charlie Morris, running back at mid-on, was unable to hang on to his top edge – had raced to his fourth half-century of the tournament, hitting five sixes and five fours.
He and skipper Luke Wright (28) made a blistering start after the Sharks had been put in to bat, peppering the boundaries as they accumulated a partnership of 84 in just under nine overs.
However, Daryl Mitchell had both openers caught in the deep and Sussex’s momentum fell away, with Ed Barnard (2-21) collecting two wickets in three deliveries, including that of the dangerous Alex Carey.
But Laurie Evans held proceedings together with 43 off 31 balls, shepherding his side to 184-6 as he rounded off the innings with consecutive boundaries off Pat Brown.
The Rapids opted to open their run chase with a pinch-hitter in the shape of Joe Leach, but that experiment backfired as Reece Topley castled him with a second-ball yorker.
Yet Sussex paid a high price for their failure to take a second early wicket, with keeper Carey inexplicably fumbling a straightforward take when Moeen, on five, wafted at a short ball from Ollie Robinson.
The left-hander went on to savage Sussex’s attack, dispatching seamers and spinners alike for maximums, with Riki Wessels (47) playing a supporting role as the duo posted a stand of 177, the tournament’s highest this year.
Moeen slammed Will Beer for successive leg-side sixes to reach his hundred off 52 balls and Sussex squandered two more chances to see the back of him, with Topley and David Wiese unable to complete catches on the boundary.
Wessels holed out with just six required – and Moeen promptly hammered that six, his 11th of the innings, over long-on to wrap up victory with 14 balls to spare.
Watch every Vitality Blast quarter-final live on Sky Sports Cricket, continuing with Gloucestershire vs Derbyshire on Saturday from 6.55pm.