Report: Foxes v Bears, Vitality Blast
Bears maintained their 100 per cent record in the Vitality Blast with a five-wicket victory over Leicestershire Foxes at the Upstonsteel County Ground.
The Foxes totalled a modest 166 for seven on an excellent pitch. Every dismissed batter except one passed 15 but none reached 30 as Danny Briggs bowled with his customary nous for 4-0-15-3.
That looked chaseable for a Bears side including Glenn Maxwell for the first time and the debutant crunched a muscular 47 (27 balls) as his side reached 167 for five with 15 balls to spare.
Sam Hain followed his unbeaten 83 in the Blast opener against Yorkshire with an unbeaten 65 (43) as only Callum Parkinson (four for 33) caused much interference to the Bears’ pusruit.
After the Foxes chose to bat, Nick Welch (30, 14) and Sol Budinger provided a punchy start with an opening stand of 49 in five overs but then fell to successive balls. Welch’s middle-stump was plucked out by Chris Woakes before Budinger heaved Dan Mousley to deep mid-wicket.
Briggs imposed a brake with a skilful spell and bowled Arron Lilley to secure his 240th T20 wicket. Number 241 soon followed when Colin Ackermann sought the crowd at long on but found only Mousley just inside the rope.
It’s not unusual to see Briggs among the wickets in T20 and when his third followed, Wiaan Milder top-edging to short fine leg, the Foxes had stuttered to 106 for five. Rishi Patel and Rehen Ahmed landed a few blows in a stand of 38 in 21 balls but the Foxes appeared to have come in under par.
The Bears’ reply raced to 22 from 13 balls before the early charge was halted by the introduction of Parkinson. He bowled Alex Davies and Paul Stirling in his first five balls but Mulder’s first over, which went for 18, returned the initiative to the Bears and they never relinquished it.
Bowling to Maxwell and Hain when both are in good nick is about as tough as it gets in world T20 and they broke the back of the chase with a stand of 90 in 51 balls. Maxwell lapped Will Davis to short fine leg, but Mousley kept up the impetus with an 11-ball 16 before ladling Parkinson to long leg.
Three balls later, Parkinson had Chris Benjamin caught behind to complete his third T20 four-for, but Hain advanced to a 35-ball half-century and the Bears eased home, Hain striking the winning run to long leg with the Tom Jones ticket still unclaimed.
Bears batter Sam Hain said: “It’s great to have started with two wins because momentum early in the competition is paramount. There are still areas in which we can improve, that’s for sure.
We know we haven’t played the perfect game yet but I think that shows the strength of the side, when you are not playing your best cricket but still getting the job done.
“Danny Briggs bowled incredibly well. We have got a lot of bowling options which is always handy in a T20 competition. Credit to Leicestershire, they got off to a flyer but then we stuck to our guns well and brought them back under control. Were they a little bit light? You never ever know in T20 at the halfway stage.
“We know this is a tough fielding ground and it can be quite tough to defend but, though I thought they bowled really well, Maxy showed how good he is. He played unbelievably and took the pressure off me – I could just nudge a couple of twos and the odd boundary and let him do the job!
£15 tickets for home quarter-final
Bears have secured a home Vitality Blast quarter-final which will be on Thursday 6 July, with adult tickets only £15.
Tickets ware available online at tickets.edgbaston.com or on the day via the Ticket Office. Members and Season Pass holders can attend for free by scanning their card at the gate.