A blistering innings of 77 from Ed Pollock guided Birmingham Bears to a seven-wicket victory over Durham via the Duckworth/Lewis method in their Vitality Blast North Group clash at Emirates Riverside.
The Bears were set a challenging total of 153 from 19 overs after rain interrupted the host’s innings, with D’Arcy Short top scoring for Durham with a half-century. However, Pollock was outstanding on his return to the Birmingham line-up, allowing the visitors to control the tempo of their chase.
The 24-year-old dismantled the Durham bowling attack with ease before he was dismissed for 77. Matthew Lamb and Will Rhodes saw their side over the line in the final over, lifting them off the bottom of the table, ending Durham’s hopes of reaching the quarter-finals of the competition in the process.
The home side were inserted by Bears skipper Jeetan Patel, who put faith in George Garrett to open the bowling on his T20 debut. He had a first over to forget as Short dispatched him for five boundaries. Chris Green shared the new ball and made the breakthrough with his off-spin, bowling Scott Steel for a duck. Short and Harry Adair kept Durham moving to reach their fifty in the powerplay, which included a six from Adair that had just enough to clear the rope.
The weather intervened to halt the Durham innings, with play resuming 35 minutes later and the loss of one over. The two batsmen struggled to find the boundary after the break, although it did not stop them putting a partnership of 70 for the second wicket. Adair tried to attack the spin of Alex Thomson, but could only send a leading edge back to the spinner.
Short worked his way to his half-century from 38 balls – his fourth of the competition. However, a change in ball resulted in his dismissal as Jeetan Patel turned one through the gate, with the New Zealander narrowly avoiding a front-foot no ball. Durham needed an injection of pace and it came from their skipper Peter Handscomb scoring a brisk 25, including a six down the ground off Patel, taking his final over for 17 runs.
Graham Clark also played a useful knock of 26, adding late boundaries before he was caught on the fence. As a result of their striking, Durham surpassed the 150-run mark at the end of their 19 overs, setting Birmingham a competitive total after being adjusted by Duckworth/Lewis to 153.
Birmingham opened with an attacking intent, putting the pressure on Liam Trevaskis. Pollock and Dominic Sibley scored five boundaries between them from the left-arm spinner’s opening two overs. Pollock continued to provide an early onslaught, dispatching Matty Potts for a six over the leg-side and a boundary in back-to-back deliveries, pushing the run rate above 10 per over.
The home side had no answer for the power of Pollock. James Weighell’s introduction into the attack resulted in a 19-run over, including another maximum from the left-hander. Short broke the opening stand for 83 when Sibley chipped tamely into the deep, but Pollock stayed calm at the other end, reaching his half-century from 24 deliveries.
Short notched his second wicket as Sam Hain played on to his stumps, attempting a reverse sweep. However, Pollock was undeterred and continued to find the boundary, whittling down the total. Pollock was finally out in the 17th over, smashing a drive straight back to Steel to set up a closer finish than expected. However, Lamb and Rhodes did enough to secure the victory with one ball to spare.