Birmingham Bears put their NatWestT20Blast campaign back on track after three straight defeats with a 28-run victory over Leicestershire Foxes at Edgbaston.
Birmingham's 186 for four was built on an opening-stand of 125 in 13 overs by Sam Hain (79, 52 balls, nine fours, two sixes) and Ian Bell (57, 35 balls, four fours, four sixes).
While those two were together the Bears looked set to total over 200 but the Foxes, led by Clint McKay's 4-0-16-1, fought back well to leave a target around par on a good batting pitch.
But though a string of Foxes batsmen got a start, none played the decisive innings his team needed as they fell short on 158 for nine. A Bears attack including Keith Barker for the first time in the Blast season kept taking wickets at important times to reassert their qualification bid and extinguish the Foxes.'
"Hain was first to his half-century, from 36 balls, Bell's following from 32"
After the visitors won the toss, Hain and Bell began in measured fashion, with the latter still to score after two overs, but accelerated past 60 in the sixth over. The century partnership arrived in the 12th over, both openers having taken advantage of a short boundary to clear the ropes on the off-side.
Hain was first to his half-century, from 36 balls, Bell's following from 32, but the latter's dismissal, edging Rob Taylor behind, signalled a sharp drop in momentum. Bell's wicket was quickly followed by that of Matt Wade, on his home debut, as the Aussie fell lbw to his countryman McKay.
When Hain sought another six off Cameron Delport but found only the hands of Ben Raine at deep extra-cover, three wickets had fallen for 26 runs in 18 balls. Laurie Evans perished in similar fashion to Hain and although Clarke (24 not out, 15 balls) landed a couple of hefty blows, a skilful final over from McKay left sent the Foxes into the mid-innings break in perky mood.
The Foxes reply started briskly with Mark Cosgrove and Mark Pettini adding 36 in 27 balls before the latter pulled Olly Hannon-Dalby to deep mid-wicket. Delport's 18-ball 20 included an audacious reverse-swept six off Josh Poysden but the South African perished attempting a repeat off Ateeq Javid.
As the required run-rate rose, greater risks had to be taken. Cosgrove (52 from 29 balls, five fours, two sixes) hoisted Patel to long off, Lewis Hill (29, 21 balls) charged and missed was adroitly stumped by Wade and when Farhaan Behardien lifted Clarke to long-off all that remained in the Foxes' locker was some futile swishing.
Last Home Game
We play our final group game vs Notts Outlaws on Friday 22 July at 7pm. With the NatWest T20 Blast north group still wide open there is still everything to play for in our final match of the season. Do not miss this game because it promises to be a belter.