Report: Bears v Leicestershire Foxes, Vitality Blast
Leicestershire Foxes ended Birmingham Bears’ 100 per cent start to the Vitality Blast season with a five-run victory at Edgbaston.
The Foxes mustered only a moderate 152 for nine but then bowled and fielded excellently to restrict the home side to 147 for nine.
After the Foxes chose to bat, Scott Steel struck a cleanly-hit T20-best 72 (51 balls, two fours, five sixes) but only Ben Mike (34, 17 balls) offered him much support. Spin pair Jake Lintott (four for 27) and Danny Briggs (two for 25) did most of the damage while Alex Davies became the first Bears wicketkeeper to snare five victims in a T20 innings.
Davies then batted enterprisingly for 43 from 34 balls in the Bears’ reply but the Foxes, led by Rehan Ahmed (three for 36), took wickets regularly to seize a big win that reignites their stuttering campaign.
After the Foxes took first use of a good batting pitch, Steel played purposefully from the first ball but no-one else in the top order reached double figures as they faltered to 65 for five.
Former Warwickshire loanee Mike helped pull the innings round with a stand of 60 in 31 balls but Steel did for his partner with a terrible call which saw him run out by Chris Benjamin’s throw from the covers.
Steel then became Davies’s fifth victim, the first of three wickets in the 18th over, from Lintott, which cost just one run. It was left to Ahmed (19 not out, 12 balls) to land a blow or two to get the total over 150.
Mike then struck quickly with the ball when Jake Bethell chipped to mid-wicket. Rob Yates upped the pace with three fours and a six in a 13-ball 24 but then sent up a skier in a fine first over from Will Davis.
Paul Stirling lifted Callum Parkinson to long on and when Ahmed removed Adam Hose, lbw, and Benjamin, caught at short third man reverse-sweeping, it was 89 for five and the Foxes were on top.
They stayed there. Colin Ackermann’s side kept taking wickets at vital times. Davies’ perky innings ended when he chipped Mike to backward point where Rishi Patel took a diving catch. Ahmed defeated Henry Brookes’ swipe to have him stumped and Carlos Brathwaite was left with only the tail for company. The Bears needed some heroics from their captain but the Foxes bowled too well to permit them.