Blast Report: Bears v Rapids
Birmingham Bears kept alive their hopes of Vitality Blast qualification with a 17-run victory over arch-rivals Worcestershire Rapids at Edgbaston.
Victory would have secured the Rapids a quarter-final place but they now have work still do to, against Leicestershire Foxes at Leicester on Sunday. The Bears, meanwhile, must beat Northamptonshire Steelbacks at home and hope that other results go their way.
After choosing to bat, the Bears made 169 for five thanks to Sam Hain’s classy unbeaten 83 from 53 balls (eight fours, two sixes). Bizarrely overlooked by England’s selectors recently, Hain batted beautifully in an unbroken sixth-wicket stand of 106 in 67 balls with Carlos Brathwaite (52 not out, 38 balls, two fours, three sixes).
The Rapids reply fell short at 152 for six. Jake Libby top-scored with 36 from 34 balls, but the pursuit never properly escaped the shackles imposed by the spin of Danny Briggs (4-0-18-2).
The loss of early wickets has been a recurring problem for the Bears through the group stage and it recurred again as they lost both openers in the first eight balls when Ben Dwarshuis and Dillon Pennington shattered the stumps of Ed Pollock and Adam Hose respectively.
Pennington struck again in his second over when Will Rhodes chopped to short third man. Kyle Mayers, making his debut, lifted Ed Barnard for six but perished trying to repeat the shot when he found only long on.
When Rob Yates chipped a return catch to Brett D’Oliveira it was 63 for five but Hain and Brathwaite counter-attacked with verve and 40 from a furious assault in the last two overs gave their bowlers something to work with.
The Rapids then also lost both openers cheaply as D’Oliveira was bowled by Briggs and Jack Haynes lifted the spinner to deep mid-wicket.
Daryl Mitchell (29, 21 balls) and Libby rebuilt shrewdly with a stand of 53 in 39 balls before both perished trying to up the run-rate. Mitchell pulled Craig Miles to Hose on the rope and Miles was then the catcher when Libby heaved Rhodes to leg.
Ben Cox reverse-swept Jake Lintott to short third man and Ed Barnard’s dangerous cameo ended when Miles plucked out his middle stump. A target of 29 from the last two overs proved well beyond the Pears after the first of those overs, from Brathwaite, cost just six.