Birmingham Bears suffered a damaging 16-run Vitality Blast defeat to Derbyshire Falcons in a low-scoring clash at The 3aaa County Ground.
The Bears will visit Northants Steelbacks on Sunday (2.30pm) in serious need of victory after failing to chase down a modest target in Derby.
After choosing to bat, the Falcons finished on 143 for nine, restricted by a disciplined bowling performance again led by Grant Elliott and Olly Stone. Elliott delivered 4-0-16-3 to follow up his 4-0-18-2 at Leicester the previous night while Stone harvested 4-0-29-2 (4-0-22-3 at Leicester).
But the Bears’ reply was set back by the loss of two wickets in the first seven balls and thereafter only Ian Bell defied for long. Bell struck 65 (51 balls, five fours, two sixes), during which he surpassed Jonathan Trott as the Bears’ top run-scorer in the format.
Against aggressive bowling, led by Hardus Viljeon who took 4-0-12-2, only two of Bell’s team-mates reached double figures though and the Bears finished on 127 for nine.
Falcons openers Billy Godleman and Calum MacLeod added a brisk 49 in 28 balls before wickets fell to the 29th and 30th balls of the innings. Aaron Thomason bowled Godleman with a slower ball then Anuj Dal was run out first ball by Chris Woakes’ direct hit from mid on.
Elliott then conceded five from his first over and three from his second, in which he dismissed the dangerous Wayne Madsen, who top-edged a pull. His third brought the wicket of MacLeod (39, 38 balls). well-held by Thomason at long on, and his fourth added the scalp of Aaron Hughes, also pouched by Thomason.
Stone increased the pressure with two wickets in four balls as Matt Critchley and Wahab Riaz attempted big hits but found only the hands of Colin de Grandhomme and Bell.
Two wickets in the final over by Thomason – Hardus Viljeon caught at long-off and Lockie Ferguson run out without facing a ball – left the bowler with 4-0-33-2 and the Falcons on 143.
In reply the Bears were four for two after seven balls after Ed Pollock and Adam Hose sent up catches from their second and third balls respectively.
Bell and Sam Hain added 39 before the latter gloved Viljeon leg-side to the wicketkeeper and, in the next over, De Grandhomme sliced Hughes to extra cover.
That was 46 for four which became 63 for five when Elliott slashed Viljeon high to third man. Bell reached 50 from 40 balls but, as the required run-rate rose, he fell to a catch at long on.
That left 37 needed from 20 balls and a superb over from Viljeon left the Bears needing 34 from 12 balls. After the first six of those, from Riaz, brought two runs and two wickets, it was game over.