Vitality Blast 2018
Sun 15 July, 13:00

Edgbaston, Birmingham

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Durham Jets

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Blast Report: Bears vs Jets

Durham Jets ended a run of seven successive T20 defeats to Birmingham Bears with an 18-run victory at sun-soaked, run-soaked Edgbaston.

The Jets piled up 220 for six, their second-highest Blast total, built upon an opening stand of 126 in 68 balls from Graham Clark (65, 40 balls, seven fours, three sixes) and Tom Latham (58, 34, four fours, four sixes).

Chasing 200-plus for the second time in 48 hours, the Bears then lost Ed Pollock first ball as Will Smith opened with a wicket-maiden. Sam Hain (95, 53, seven fours, five sixes) and Colin de Grandhomme (62 not out, 32 balls, four fours, five sixes) kept their hopes alive into the closing overs but finding 35 from the last two proved too much and the Bears close on 202 for five.

The Jets’ second win of the tournament keeps them right in the qualification race. Birmingham are still in there too but need to bounce back from back-to-back defeats which brought heavy punishment for their bowlers.

Durham chose to take first use of a good batting track and Clark and Latham amassed the Jets’ record T20 opening stand. Clark was first to 50 (31 balls) when he hoisted Olly Hannon-Dalby into the Hollies Stand. In the next over a Latham six off countryman Grant Elliott posted the 100 up from 9.3 overs.

Birmingham hit back with four wickets for 12 runs in 14 balls. Latham was held by Dom Sibley at extra-cover, James Weighell and Liam Trevaskis holed out and Clark clipped Elliott to short fine-leg.

The Jets’ dominance was reasserted by a ferocious stand of 75 in 33 balls by Paul Collingwood (37, 22 balls) and Smith (34, 17). Collingwood took the bulk of 27 from a de Grandhomme over which summed up the Bears’ bowling problems with several balls failing to pitch.

Birmingham required 11 an over to win but were four for one after two overs, Pollock having lifted the first ball to long leg.

Ian Bell flicked Nathan Rimmington to short fine leg then Smith, having rested with figures of 1-1-0-1, returned to have Adam Hose caught at deep cover.

Hain kept his side afloat before a counter-attack was heralded by four successive sixes by De Grandhomme off Imran Tahir. Hain socked 29 from a Chris Rushworth over and the fourth-wicket pair added 100 in 50 balls to keep their side in the hunt with 52 needed from four overs.

But Weighell returned to bowl the first of those and did so superbly, Hain and Elliott holing out from the first and last balls to leave 49 required from three. Too many – Birmingham’s bowlers had given their batters too much to do.

All about winning with the Bears says Bell

Ian Bell is pleased with his personal form so far in the Vitality Blast but insists “it’s all about winning games for the Bears.”

Bell will face Durham Jets at Edgbaston tomorrow (1pm) having lit up two of the first four group games for Birmingham with a brilliant unbeaten 82 to seal victory over Notts Outlaws at Trent Bridge and a classy unbeaten 50 as Yorkshire Vikings were seen off at Edgbaston.

A former T20 tournament winner both with the Bears in England and Perth Scorchers in Australia, the 36-year-old knows what it takes to deliver success in the format.

We have a lot of power in the side. With the bat, we have a nice blend of power-hitters and stroke-players. A lot of the guys have scored runs in tournament this year already.

Ian Bell

And he reckons his beloved Bears are well-placed to challenge hard this year to reach their fourth Finals Day in five years.

“We have a lot of power in the side,” Bell said. “With the bat, we have a nice blend of power-hitters and stroke-players. A lot of the guys have scored runs in tournament this year already and we have hardly seen Colin de Grandhomme at the crease yet – and he’s the most powerful of all.

“We have a nice balance in the batting and the bowlers have showed a lot of skill so it’s been a good start.

“On a personal note it is always nice to score runs but the best thing was that those runs contributed to victories. It’s all about winning games for the Bears, whatever the format.”

In this year’s Vitality Blast, Bell has moved up to open the innings with Ed Pollock. That has given him a close-up view of the young opener who has taken the format by storm since bursting into the Bears’ team last year – and last Sunday cracked a sensational 33 off the first over of the innings by Yorkshire’s Matt Fisher.

“Fisher actually bowled a really quick first over but Polly was just incredible,” Bell said. “That hurts a team and really set the tone. It was exceptional stuff from Ed and allowed the rest of us batsmen to have a couple of sighters knowing that we were well ahead of the game.

“Sometimes T20 is about power but you have got to read the game as well and after that start it was about risk-management, just scoring off as many balls as I could and picking off the boundaries.

“There were a couple of overs I identified to take down, like the last in the powerplay, but apart from that I just tried to hit as many sweepers as I could and hopefully be there at the end and see us home.”

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