Vitality Blast 2018
Wed 15 August, 19:00

Edgbaston, Birmingham

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Lancashire Lightning

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Blast Report: Bears v Lightning

Birmingham Bears preserved their hopes of qualifying for the Vitality Blast quarter-finals with a comfortable seven-wicket win over Lancashire Lightning at Edgbaston.

Lancashire, already assured a place in the last eight, chose to bat but were bowled out for 102 with only Danny Lamb (24, 18 balls) passing 20.

Olly Hannon-Dalby inflicted most damage with 4-0-20-4 although critical pressure was imposed by spinners Jeetan Patel (4-1-15-1) and Josh Poysden (4-0-18-1).

Birmingham then eased to 105 for three with 35 balls to spare after openers Ed Pollock (36, 24) and Ian Bell (34, 36 balls) added 68 from 54 balls.

The Bears now need a favour from Northants Steelbacks tomorrow. If the Steelbacks beat Yorkshire at Wantage Road, the Bears could still qualify with victory over Worcestershire Rapids in the big derby at Edgbaston on Friday.

On that match does the Lightning’s quest for a home quarter-final now also hinge. A Rapids victory would mean they claim a home quarter, consigning Lancashire to travel.

The Lightning innings started smoothly enough, 22 runs arriving from the first 17 balls, but then slumped to 59 for six. Hannon-Dalby started the collapse with two wickets in four balls, Alex Davies and Karl Brown caught at extra cover and mid on respectively.

Dane Vilas lifted Aaron Thomason to deep point, Arron Lilley became Grant Elliott’s 18th victim of this year’s Blast when he sliced to short third man and Josh Bohannon the 19th when he was trapped in front.

Patel and Poysden increased the pressure, the latter bowling Steven Croft with a textbook leg-break. Catches from wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose, fresh from signing a contract extension at Edgbaston, did for James Faulkner, Lamb and Mark Watt as the Lightning lower-order flailed in vain before Hannon-Dalby removed Matt Parkinson to seal a personal T20 best.

Bell and Pollock made rapid inroads into the small target. Bell, in the T20 form of his life, has become the Bears’ highest ever scorer in the format during this year’s tournament and again batted with class and composure. Pollock, under no pressure to go too hard in pursuit of such a meagre total, played with controlled aggression and sent the score past 50 in the eighth over with 16 from three successive balls from Lilley.

Pollock perished to a catch at long on, just as the Bears’ first ever T20 ten-wicket win loomed, and Bell chipped Parkinson to mid-off but victory soon followed to put the Bears’ fans firmly in the Steelbacks’ camp tomorrow.

Bears ready for final Quarter Final Push

Birmingham Bears will meet Lancashire Lightning at Edgbaston tomorrow (7pm) knowing that only a win will keep them in contention for a place in the Vitality Blast quarter-finals.

Birmingham face a quickfire revenge mission against the Lightning whom they visited at Emirates Old Trafford last Friday when a 37-run defeat dealt a serious blow to their qualification hopes.

The Bears’ fate is no longer entirely in their own hands. They must win their last two games, against Lancashire Lightning tomorrow and then at home to Worcestershire Rapids on Friday (6.30pm) to be in contention to qualify.

Even then, that might not be enough as the Bears need other results to go their way. First up, they need Northants Steelbacks to beat Yorkshire Vikings on Thursday.

If the Vikings win that one, the Bears’ qualification bid is over as it would mean the Vikings join Notts Outlaws on 14 points and, with the two meeting in the final game at Headingley on Friday, victory for either would take them beyond the Bears’ reach and secure fourth place.

Victory for the Bears in both their remaining matches, a win for Northants Steelbacks against the Vikings and then a Vikings victory over the Outlaws will see the Bears through.

That would sneak the Bears into fourth in the final group table. When the Bears won the Blast in 2014, of course, they only qualified thanks to the right cocktail of results in Birmingham and Leeds on the last day. Could history repeat itself?

First and foremost, it’s a win-or-bust night at Edgbaston tomorrow – they have to beat the Lightning.

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