Birmingham Bears took a big stride towards the NatWest T20 Blast quarter-finals with a thumping eight-wicket victory over Durham Jets.
The Bears extended their 100 per cent record in T20 at The Riverside – that’s four visits, four wins – after outclassing their hosts.
After choosing to bat, the Jets were restricted to 145 for eight by a fine collective bowling effort led by Jeetan Patel (4-0-22-2), Olly Hannon-Dalby (4-0-28-2) and Olly Stone (4-0-30-2), supported by faultless catching and fast groundfielding.
The Bears then stormed to their target, thundering to 148 for two from 14.5 overs overs. Ed Pollock launched the chase with an explosive 52 from just 25 balls in an opening stand of 79 in 38 balls with Dominic Sibley.
Colin de Grandhomme (34 from 22 balls) then helped to smash 51 in 34 balls with Sibley who saw his side home with a classy unbeaten 51 (38 balls).
The Bears began strongly as opening bowlers Stone and Patel took three wickets in the first 18 balls. Patel, who started the game with 17 Blast wickets at 17 runs apiece this season, soon added victim 18 when Keaton Jennings chipped to Pollock at short mid-wicket.
Stone then inflicted two big blows in his second over as Paul Collingwood fell lbw and Tom Latham attacked a good-length ball but found only Ian Bell at mid-off.
Hannon-Dalby added a wicket with his fourth ball which Graham Clark slapped straight to Patel at extra-cover and when the spinner returned to trap Michael Richardson lbw, the Jets were 58 for five.
Paul Coughlin (53, 37 balls) played a fine captain’s innings though and found good support from former Bears wicketkeeper Stuart Poynter (36 not out, 30 balls). They added 53 from 35 balls before Coughlin sent a slower ball from Grant Elliott miles high and Bell judged the awkward skier perfectly.
The Bears’ exemplary catching continued when Elliott, at short fine leg, pouched a lap from Ryan Pringle and Patel rounded off a fine Bears effort in the field by conceding just five runs from the final over.
Birmingham’s reply was then given the perfect springboard by Pollock and Sibley who had 50 on the board in 24 balls. Pollock pulled one six into the top tier of the stand and hit three others, as well as three fours, before skying an attempt to hit a third successive six off Pringle.
It was a brilliant knock from the 22-year-old but his departure did not end the Jets’ punishment as De Grandhomme soon found the afore-mentioned top tier and added an exquisitely-timed six, flicked off his toes, off Collingwood.
De Grandhomme holed out but Sibley saw his side home in classy style – and there was just time for Aaron Thomson to come in and clear the ropes with a glorious straight six from his second ball faced.