Report: Bears v Outlaws, Vitality Blast
Sam Hain continued his rich vein of form with an unbeaten 97, but it wasn’t enough as the Bears fell just short to fall to a 11-run win defeat against Notts Outlaws at run-soaked Edgbaston.
Notts were put in by the top-of-the-table Bears but piled up an imposing 214 for 3. When two batters in the same innings reach half-centuries with their fifth six, things have not gone well for the opposition – so it was with Joe Clarke, 89 not out off 53 balls, and Colin Munro (87 off 43) as they pummelled the bowlers in a partnership of 122 from 68 balls.
The remarkable Hain then took his Blast run-tally this season to 303 with a superb unbeaten 97 off 52, but the Bears fell short on 203 for 9.
Notts will hope their third win in six games will be the start of a consistent run towards the quarter-finals. The Bears meanwhile, have faltered after a flying start. It has not been the homecoming Birmingham had in mind for Moeen Ali. They won four out of four before his return, since when they have lost two out of two – evidence, perhaps, for the case of ‘never change a winning team’.
After choosing to bowl, the Bears soon removed Alex Hales, bowled by Henry Brookes with the ninth ball, but the brisk breakthrough simply opened the door to the onslaught. After a watchful start (Dan Mousley’s first two overs cost just five runs), Munro launched an offensive which silenced the big home crowd.
He bashed Glenn Maxwell straight out of the attack with two sixes and two more sailed into the stands from what proved to be Danny Briggs’ only over. Maxwell, Briggs and Ed Barnard together bowled three overs for 49.
It was thrilling hitting from Munro who was within sight of his sixth T20 century when he lifted Moeen to long-off in pursuit of his tenth six. That was the signal for Clarke, hitherto content to be the quiet partner, to attack. The former Rapids batter smote a Brookes full toss into the crowd to raise the Outlaws’ 200 and the innings closed on 214 with 13 fours and 16 sixes.
Under intense scoreboard pressure, the Bears had to go hard from the off and they lost captain and vice-captain in the fourth over. Moeen and Alex Davies flailed off-side catches off Shaheen Afridi and then Maxwell skied a top-edged slog at Jake Ball.
From a parlous 40 for 3, Hain and Mousley added 52 in six overs before the latter fell to a brilliant catch by Matt Montgomery, racing in and diving forward from deep point. That was from Calvin Harrison’s third ball. When the spinner’s 12th delivery bowled Chris Benjamin, the Bears’ hopes lay squarely with Hain. He batted magnificently but that scoreboard pressure – 59 needed from the last four overs – was too great.
First Team Coach Mark Robinson said: “It was a great wicket and there was some great ball-striking. Munro’s innings was pretty special, he just kept clearing the boundaries, and Clarke was a bit scratchy at the beginning but then blossomed. It was a killer partnership.
“Munro’s innings was a special one and then Sam Hain’s for us was equally as good but he couldn’t quite get us over the line. He needed a bit of help. He kept us alive for a long time when we were out of the contest for a while but he kept us in it and it got quite exciting at the end.
“There was one long boundary and one short boundary and they probably defended the short one a bit better than we did, but we have lost to two special innings over the last couple of games. We weren’t very good at Derby yesterday but it was still a special knock by Wayne Madsen on a difficult wicket and tonight Munro’s ball-striking was exceptional. I kept thinking ‘we’ve done him in the flight’ but then the ball was sailing over people’s heads.
“There’s been a good crowd in tonight and they’ve been treated to a great innings by Munro and then another one by Hainy so hopefully they’ll feel they’ve had a good night’s entertainment.”
£15 tickets for home quarter-final
Bears have secured a home Vitality Blast quarter-final which will be on Thursday 6 July, with adult tickets only £15.
Tickets ware available online at tickets.edgbaston.com or on the day via the Ticket Office. Members and Season Pass holders can attend for free by scanning their card at the gate.