Birmingham Bears made it back-to-back NatWestT20Blast wins after beating North Group leaders Leicestershire Foxes in highly impressive style by 30 runs at the Fischer County Ground.
Sam Hain underpinned the Bears total of 187 for seven with a classy 57 (35 balls, seven fours, one six) – his third T20 half-century and first of the season.
The Foxes were then restricted to 157 for eight as Aaron Thomason delivered a T20-best 4-0-33-3, supported by the ever-excellent Jeetan Patel (4-0-17-1).
Put in, the Bears soon lost both openers as Ed Pollock was stumped and Ian Bell skied a catch to mid on, but Hain and William Porterfield got the innings motoring with a stand of 63 in 33 balls. Hain struck Mat Pillans for four, six, four from successive balls and Porterfield hit three sixes before falling to another catch at mid on, for 35 (23 balls).
Colin De Grandhomme and Grant Elliott scored 15 and 16 from 11 balls respectively, the former denting a floodlight pylon with a huge pulled six. Hain reached his half-century from 28 balls but when he missed with a big hit at Pillans and was bowled, the Bears needed some late impetus. Keith Barker and Alex Mellor supplied it with an unbroken stand of 43 from the last 20 balls.
In the 19th over, from Gavin Griffiths, Barker cleared the ropes over mid-wicket and Mellor lapped an outrageous six over the wicketkeeper. Barker then lifted McKay over the pavilion and out of the ground as the Bears posted a challenging total.
Ronchi launched the Foxes reply in spectacular fashion with 16 from the first over but a fine catch by De Grandhomme at mid-wicket off Boyd Rankin removed Cameron Delport in the second.
Mark Cosgrove’s aggressive 22 (12 balls) was ended by Thomason’s second ball, which he lifted to Bell at cover and Colin Ackerman also came out all guns blazing (13, seven balls) but was bowled by Patel’s fifth delivery.
Thomason then followed up the vital wicket of Cosgrove with the even bigger one of Ronchi (27, 20 balls), who he bowled before adding the scalp of Mark Pettini, caught by Elliott at long on, three balls later.
The Foxes’ dangerous lower order hit hard but were tied down by the experienced and skills of Patel and Elliott (3-0-15-1) while De Grandhomme single over, for six runs, also cranked up the pressure on the fading Foxes.