Sam Hain’s superb unbeaten 82 could not prevent Birmingham Bears suffering a five-wicket defeat to North Group leaders Notts Outlaws in the NatWestT20Blast at Trent Bridge.
The Bears will face Durham Jets up in the north-east on Sunday eager to end a blip of two successive defeats after the Outlaws overhauled their totalof 180 for seven with 11 balls to spare.
To reach 180 was a strong effort by the Bears from 38 for four, a recovery which came thanks to a sixth-wicket stand of 69 from 42 balls by Hain (82 not out, 50 balls, eight fours, three sixes) and Aaron Thomason (a T20-best 42 from 23 balls, two fours, three sixes).
Their work assured a decent total but Rikki Wessels (28, 11 balls) gave the Outlaws a flying start and Samit Patel (an unbeaten 77 from 47) and Brendan Taylor kept their side on course for victory with a stand of 96 in 67 balls.
The Bears, who made a double change in the bowling department with Olly Stone and Olly Hannon-Dalby replacing Keith Barker and Boyd Rankin, were put in and found the going tough, reaching the end of the six-over powerplay at 39 for four.
England paceman Jake Ball caused most trouble. He started with 2-0-7-3 after dismissing Dom Sibley, caught at mid on, Adam Hose, caught behind off an attempted lap and Grant Elliott whose middle-stump was uprooted by a full-length ball. Ian Bell, meanwhile, was unluckily strangled down the leg-side, caught by the wicketkeeper off Dan Christian.
After Colin De Grandhomme was caught at deep cover in search of a third successive four, the Bears were 67 for five but Hain and Thomason batted beautifully. Careful at first, they then counter-attacked with two of Thomason’s three sixes struck immaculately straight off the spinners.
After Thomason was caught at deep extra cover and Alex Mellor sliced to deep third man, Hain showed his class to the end, smashing the penultimate ball of the innings for six.
When Notts replied, Stone quickly struck a big blow when Alex Hales fell first ball, well-caught at mid-off by Bell. Rikki Wessels and Tom Moores crashed 38 from 13 balls but fell to fine catches. Substitute fielder Will Porterfield (on for Hose who suffered a hand injury while batting) held on to a sharp catch at point to oust Moores off Stone, then Hain judged a skier perfectly to remove Wessels off Stone.
That was 43 for three but, with the pressure taken off by the fast start, Patel and Taylor (36, 33 balls) showed all their experience in a measured and skilful stand which broke the back of the chase. Olly Hannon-Dalby removed Taylor and Christian in a skilful spell but Patel steered his side home with a high-class innings which leaves the Bears needing to get back to winning ways up in the north-east on Sunday.