Vitality Blast 2018
Fri 13 July, 19:00

Edgbaston, Birmingham

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Leicestershire Foxes

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Blast Report: Bears v Foxes

A brilliant century from Ben Raine lifted Leicestershire Foxes to a 102-run victory over Birmingham Bears in the Vitality Blast at Edgbaston.

Former Durham all-rounder Raine smashed his way to 100 from just 41 balls, the second-fastest T20 century by an Englishman, on his way to a blistering 113 from 46 balls with eight fours and ten sixes.

His first century in any format for Leicestershire, it featured some magnificent straight hitting and lifted the Foxes to their record T20 total – 229 for five.

Raine then took two wickets in his first over to leave Birmingham’s reply in early disarray 36 for three. There was no way back from that for the Bears who folded to 127 all out to leave the Foxes with their record T20 win and both teams with two wins and two defeats from four games in the north group.

Put in, the Foxes were flying from the word go as Cameron Delport blasted 27 from 14 balls before sending up a skier off Olly Hannon-Dalby. Four balls later, Dom Sibley took a smart catch at cover to remove Neil Dexter but the fielder might soon have reflected that he’d have been better off dropping it as Raine launched his onslaught.

He raced to 50 from 21 balls, reaching his half century in the midst of a barrage which brought 20 from four balls from off spinner Sibley.

Raine sustained his punishment of a Bears team which was untypically ragged in the field. He dominated a third-wicket partnership of 142 in 66 balls with Mark Cosgrove (42, 41 balls, three fours, one six) and departed, having skied a return catch to Colin de Grandhomme, to a standing ovation from the home fans who appreciated the quality of Raine’s hitting even at the expense of their own team.

Under immense pressure from the word go, Birmingham took 17 from the first over but that pressure soon took its toll. Ed Pollock (25, 14 balls) was bowled by Colin Ackermann’s third ball before Raine’s golden day got even better as his fourth and sixth deliveries removed Ian Bell and Sam Hain, caught at deep fine leg and extra cover respectively.

Raine had not finished, taking a fine catch to remove the dangerous de Grandhomme, and when skipper Grant Elliott was stumped off spinner Callum Parkinson’s second ball, the Bears’ last vestige of hope disappeared.

The Foxes’ perfect day ended with Parkinson rifling through the lower order for a T20 career-best four for 20.

Troughton expects Bears to sharpen up for Edgbaston weekend

Birmingham Bears have made a strong start to their Vitality Blast campaign but will still be under orders to “sharpen up” when they face Leicestershire Foxes at Edgbaston tomorrow (7pm).

The Bears have emerged from their first three games, all against teams likely to challenge hard for qualification, with two wins, both by the impressive margin of eight wickets.

Much of their work has been good. But first-team coach Jim Troughton and captain Grant Elliott set the bar very high so they want to see further improvement in this weekend’s home double-header, against the Foxes tomorrow and Durham Jets on Sunday (1pm).

There is not a ground in the country that can contain Hosey when he’s on song.

Jim Troughton

“It was a great win over Yorkshire last Sunday and the guys have played some excellent T20 cricket so far,” said Troughton. “Now we have had a few days this week to get a bit of time off but also a bit more practice in. I still think we are letting some runs slip in the field so we need to sharpen up a little bit there.

“Also, there are some guys who have not had much of a hit so far so we have given them a hit out in the middle and in the nets this week.”

With the Bears’ two group wins so far having each arrived by eight wickets, the middle-order batsmen, including Black Caps powerhouses Elliott and Colin de Grandhomme, have been lightly raced.

Their turn will no doubt come but the big crowd at Edgbaston last Sunday were happy enough feasting on the blazing batting of Ed Pollock and Adam Hose who between them smashed 90 runs from 47 balls with eight fours and seven sixes.

Pollock’s 14-ball 39 took his career T20 strike-rate to a remarkable 191.05 while Hose’s unbeaten 51 from 33 balls contained more of the mighty hitting that has made quickly made him a big Birmingham favourite.

“There is not a ground in the country that can contain Hosey when he’s on song,” said Troughton. “We had Colin ready to go in as well on Sunday because we wanted to get the game done and dusted quickly because run-rate might be important but Hosey did the job.

“Ed played another fantastic knock. Opposing sides know more about him now but looking at how people set up against him in the RL50 he still managed a really impressive strike-rate and influenced games.

“It’s just about managing that expectation for him and Ed not putting himself under pressure to make big scores, just going out there and freeing up which is what he does brilliantly.”

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