Birmingham Bears booked their place in the NatWestT20Blast final later today with a superb all-round display to defeat Glamorgan by 11 runs in the first semi-final at a packed Edgbaston.
Put in, the Bears made 175 for nine, thanks principally to another explosive knock from opener Ed Pollock. The 22-year-old clubbed 50 from just 37 balls to give the innings the perfect platform but Glamorgan bowled skilfully in the middle and latter overs.
There were useful contributions from Grant Elliott (32, 26 balls), Colin De Grandhomme (30, 18) and Dominic Sibley (27, 23) but at halfway the gam was finely poised.
Brilliant catches by Elliott and Sam Hain then helped reduce Glamorgan to 46 for four and though Jacques Rudolph (65, 39 balls) looked dangerous he was then superbly run out by Aaron Thomason. The Welsh county were all out for 164 in the final over and the majority of the 24,426 full house at Edgbaston have the final they were hoping for.
The Bears were given a blistering start yet again by Pollock who smashed 50 of an opening stand of 65 in 35 balls with Dom Sibley. Sibley was content with a watching brief, feeding the strike to Pollock hit four sixes and five fours in a thrilling onslaught which ended with a catch at wide mid on.
The Bears ended the powerplay on 65 for one but Glamorgan struck back with some tight middle-overs led by medium-paced Craig Meschede. He had Adam Hose caught in the deep and trapped Sam Hain lbw while Colin Ingram added the wicket of Sibley, caught at mid on.
Elliott and de Grandhomme (30, 18 balls) added 46 in 34 balls before the former lapped Michael Hogan to short fine leg. That left the Bears 139 for five with four overs left and needing some late impetus which De Grandhomme supplied with four fours.
Birmingham struck an early blow when Hain pulled off a brilliant catch on the mid-wicket boundary to dismiss Aneurin Donald off Chris Woakes’ fourth ball. If that was a great catch, Elliott topped it with a wonderful take, diving full-length after racing across from mid-on, to pouch a Colin Ingram skier off Olly Stone.
Aaron Thomason’s second ball removed the dangerous David Miller, caught-behind by Tim Ambrose who then accepted another edge, from Kiran Carlson, off a lovely outswinger by Stone.
That was 59 for four and Jeetan Patel increased the pressure by conceding just a single from the eighth over. The ninth ended with another neat catch, this time by Sibley running in from deep mid-wicket to oust Chris Cooke off Elliott.
Rudolph and Graham Wagg kept Glamorgan in the hunt with a stand of 50 from 34 balls but then the former fell to Thomason’s speed of thought and hand. The Edgbaston youth product stopped a fierce straight drive from Wagg in his follow through and flicked the stumps down at the non-striker’s end with Rudolph short of his ground.
When Wagg (25, 22 balls) lifted a stinging catch to Elliott at mid-off off Woakes, Glamorgan’s late-order was left with a challenge which was beyond them.