Skilful spin bowling and explosive batting powered Birmingham Bears to an eight-wicket win over Yorkshire Vikings in the Vitality Blast north group at Edgbaston.
Yorkshire totalled 157 for seven thanks principally to Gary Ballance’s high-class 79 (49 balls, six fours, four sixes). Only Ballance batted with freedom against an attack in which the spinners starred with Jeetan Patel taking 4-1-23-0 and the recalled Dominic Sibley 4-0-25-1.
If the total looked slightly below par, it appeared even more so after Ed Pollock thumped 33 from the first over of Birmingham’s reply. Pollock’s 14-ball 39 (five fours, three sixes) laid the platform on which Ian Bell (50, 40 balls, six fours) and Adam Hose (51, 33 balls, three fours, four sixes) built with an unbroken stand of 83 in 55 balls. Victory arrived with 25 balls to spare.
Put in, Yorkshire slumped to 28 for three in the fifth over. Adam Lyth fell to the second ball of the innings, lbw to Henry Brookes, Tom Kohler-Cadmore lifted Olly Hannon-Dalby to deep square leg and Harry Brook (20, 14 balls) sent up a skier off Brookes.
Ballance and Jonny Tattersall added 43 from 36 balls before the latter played on to Sibley. As the spinners bowled tightly, Patel, on his 109th T20 appearance for the Bears, delivered his first T20 maiden for the club.
Jack Leaning played on to Elliott but Ballance completed a superb half-century from 37 balls including two sixes, both ‘touched over the bar’ by fielders.
Brookes’ well-judged boundary catch removed Tim Bresnan off Hannon-Dalby but Ballance and Matt Fisher (17 not out from six balls) thrashed 43 from the last three overs to ensure a competitive total.
Fisher’s hitting had given his side late impetus but the 20-year-old then endured a nightmare opening over which included a five-wides, a no ball and two sixes and two fours from Pollock. When the opener departed to a boundary catch off Steve Patterson in the fourth over, his onslaught had already taken his side past 50.
Sam Hain soon fell to a fine catch by Bresnan at long leg but if there was a sliver of hope for the Vikings it was quickly snuffed out as Bell and as Hose raised a half-century stand in 33 balls. Hose lifted Azeem Rafiq over long-on for six to take the total past 100 in the tenth over and, in front of a 10,395 crowd, the Bears cruised to their second eight-wicket victory in three games in the competition this season.