Vitality Blast 2018
Thu 9 August, 19:00

Edgbaston, Birmingham

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Nottinghamshire Outlaws

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Blast Report: Bears v Outlaws

Birmingham Bears continued their charge in the Vitality Blast with an impressive six-wicket victory over Notts Outlaws at Edgbaston.

The holders were handed their sixth defeat of the North Group campaign by a Bears team which remains in the qualification race thanks to a solid bowling display backed up by batting fireworks from Ian Bell and Colin de Grandhomme.

Put in, Notts totalled 152 for eight with only Samit Patel (41, 39 balls, five fours) lasting more than 20 balls against a well-drilled attack led by Black caps pair Grant Elliott (4-0-26-1) and Jeetan Patel (4-0-28-2) with good support from Olly Hannon Dalby (4-0-30-3).

When Birmingham were 63 for three in reply, the game was evenly poised but Bell (54, 37 balls, three fours, two sixes) and De Grandhomme  (49 not out,  28 balls, one four, five sixes) added 79 in 46 balls to turn the pursuit into a cruise. Victory arrived with 22 balls to spare.

The Bears will travel to Lancashire Lightning tomorrow with qualification hopes still alive, though with still no margin for error in their last three games, a situation which also applies to Notts, starting at home to Yorkshire tomorrow.

The Outlaws struggled early on as spinner Jeetan Patel opened from the Pavilion End with a spell of 3-0-17-2. After Rikki Wessels lifted Hannon-Dalby to Adam Hose at deep square leg, Patel had Tom Moores caught by Hose at long off then bowled Alex Hales (20, 14 balls) through a misjudged pull.

That left the Outlaws 27 for three in the fourth over but Samit Patel and Steven Mullaney rebuilt with a stand of 52 in 42 balls before the latter (24, 16 balls) hoisted Hannon-Dalby to long on.

Patel’s polished innings ended when he lifted Aaron Thomason to mid-on. Dan Christian soon became Elliott’s 17th victim of the Blast campaign and though Jake Libby (21 not out, 16 balls) and Billy Root (17, 14 balls) landed some blows in a seventh-wicket stand of 36 in four overs, the Outlaws came in looking well under par.

Ed Pollock launched the Bears’ reply with two sixes in the first over but he and Hose sent up skiers and then an excellent over from Mullaney cost just one run and brought the wicket of Hain, caught in the deep.

But Bell motored classily on, passing 500 Blast runs for the season with a six pulled over mid-wicket of Ish Sodhi, and De Grandhomme was soon peppering the stands with big hits to the delight of the majority in another big Edgbaston crowd.

"We don't fear anyone" says Troughton

Birmingham Bears face Vitality Blast holders Notts Outlaws at Edgbaston tomorrow (7pm) knowing they have no more margin for error if they are to qualify for the quarter-finals.

Two wins from three games have kept the Bears’ hopes alive but they must win their remaining four games – all tough ones against holders Notts tomorrow, then away and at home to Lancashire Lightning before finishing off against arch-rivals Worcestershire Rapids at Edgbaston on Friday August 17th.

We have Outlaws then Lancs twice and it would be nice to come to the last game against our old rivals having to win to qualify and reap some revenge for the RL50.

Jim Troughton

It is a tall order, but one which they are more than capable of meeting, reckons first-team coach Jim Troughton

“We definitely have to win four out of four but that’s not beyond us,” he said. “They are four difficult games but we have enough players in this team who can win us matches. We don’t fear anyone.

“We have Notts Outlaws then Lancashire twice and it would be nice to come to the last game against our old rivals Worcestershire having to win to qualify and reap some revenge for the RL50 where I thought we were hard done by not to qualify.”

The Bears are under pressure at the business end of the group due to their inconsistency with emphatic wins combined with defeats rooted in conceding totals too big for even a mostly in-form batting unit to chase down.

Such inconsistency must be banished during the last four games if the Bears are to preserve their qualification hopes.

“It’s been an up and down campaign so far, so we have put ourselves in the position where now it is knockout cricket for us,” Troughton said. “We had a really long chat after winning at Northants last Sunday and we know there is no more margin for error.

“We’ve seen the windows of opportunity that we have missed during the group, like needing two runs from two balls at home to Northants and dropping catches in the powerplay against Leicestershire. But we can’t control that now. What we can control is how we play against Notts, Lancashire, Lancashire and Worcestershire.

“The guys had a couple of days off after the Northants game and now will come back in and train hard today with a view to taking the energy and confidence from that win into the Notts game tomorrow.”

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