Report: Bears v Vikings, Vitality Blast
Sam Hain sparkled yet again as the Bears began their Vitality Blast campaign with a comfortable 34-run victory over Yorkshire Vikings at Edgbaston.
In the second half of the inaugural Blast Off double header, the Bears were lifted to an imposing 200 for six by a stand of 97 in 47 balls by Hain (83 not out, 46 balls) and Chris Benjamin (46, 28).
The Bears’ bowling attack then made light of the loss of Hassan Ali, who turned an ankle in the warm-ups.
Chris Woakes struck twice in his first 11 balls as the Vikings dipped to 34 for five. There was no way back from there and they ended on 166 all out, Dawid Malan top-scoring with 43 from 29 and Henry Brookes taking four for 32.
The hefty margin of victory continued the recent history of less-than-tight Blast encounters between these teams, their previous two meetings having delivered a ten-wicket win for each.
The Vikings’ decision to bowl first appeared sound after the home side ended the powerplay on a modest 41 for three. Paul Stirling, returning to Birmingham on a short-term deal until Glenn Maxwell’s IPL commitments are over, played on to Matt Revis whose excellent first two overs cost just eight runs.
When Dom Bess’s third ball bowled Dan Mousley through an attempted slog-sweep, the Bears were 51 for four – a wobbly platform which Hain and Benjamin first shored up then built upon spectacularly with some ferocious strokeplay.
Revis returned to end the partnership second ball back when Benjamin ladled to deep square leg, but Hain remained to smite seven fours and four sixes. His last two fours, pulled to the raucous Hollies Stand side off Ben Mike, came from the last two balls of the innings to take the total to 200.
Woakes then got busy as the Vikings lost wickets to the fifth ball of each of the first four overs. The World Cup winner had Adam Lyth caught behind and forced Shan Masood to play on.
Henry Brookes ended Jonny Bairstow’s input at seven from six balls, courtesy of a nick to the wicketkeeper, and bowled Will Fraine to leave the innings in disarray at 20 for four.
That became 34 for five when Revis connected sweetly with a cover drive off Dan Mousley but was brilliantly caught at extra by Danny Briggs. Another fine catch, from Brookes diving forward at deep square off Craig Miles, removed Mike and when Jordan Thompson sent up a skier later in the over, Malan was left with 133 to find from ten overs and only the lower order for company.
After Malan fell lbw slog-sweeping at Jake Lintott, the quest for 102 from the last six overs proved beyond the Vikings’ reach despite some carefree swishing in a lost cause from Dom Bess (42 not out, 28) and Jafer Chohan (37, 20).
Bears batter Sam Hain said: “As a batting unit we always risk being bowled out for 70 or 80 because we want to get 200 every time, but we knew that was a decent score on a good wicket. Benji and I enjoy batting together, we build off each other’s energy and it worked well for us tonight.
“With our batting line up we have a lot of people who want to do well and are capable of it and we will need that in a long campaign.
“Yorkshire bowled really well up front but sometimes as a batter in T20 you have more time than you think. If you stay in long enough, you will eventually get a ball you can hit so sometimes you have to play the long game and that’s what we did.
“Then with the ball, Woakesy and Brookesy were brilliant. It was a great effort from Brookesy after Hasan went down in the warm up – he came in and took an incredible catch and a got a four-for. Milo took wickets too and it was a great effort from the bowlers because it is tough when you are bowling to a short boundary on one side as the guys were tonight.”
Blast is back! Buy your tickets in advance & save
Vitality Blast T20 cricket is back! Tickets are on sale now for all home games and fans can save £4 per ticket by purchasing in advance.
Next up is some Friday night T20 action as the Bears entertain Northants Steelbacks on Friday 9 June (6.30pm). Tickets available from only £21, while groups of six or more can make further savings. #BeReady and buy online today.