Report: Outlaws v Bears, Vitality Blast
Bears booked a home quarter-final in the Vitality Blast with an incredible comeback win over North Group rivals Notts Outlaws, recovering from 7/4 to win by two wickets.
Pakistan ace Shaheen Shah Afridi looked to have blown the Bears away as he took wickets with his first, second, fifth and sixth legal deliveries to leave Mark Robson’s men in dire trouble as they chased Notts 168.
But, after the Outlaws lost their England quick Olly Stone after bowling just three balls on his comeback from injury, opener Rob Yates put together a calm 65 from 46 balls with five sixes that ultimately proved to be the foundation for a victory completed with five balls to spare with vital runs from Jacob Bethell (27) and Jake Lintott (27 not out) in the middle and later stages of the innings.
Despite Tom Moores hitting 73 from 42 balls, the Outlaws always looked to be under par with 168 from their 20 overs, Hassan Ali taking three for 25 and Lintott three for 27. Afridi’s four for 29 and Jake Ball’s three for 33 proved in vain and Outlaws need to beat Leicestershire Foxes at Trent Bridge in their final game to join the Bears in the knock-out stages.
Asked to bat first after struggling for runs in their last three matches, the Outlaws suffered an early blow as Alex Hales continued his own poor run by chopping on to Henry Brookes for four but Joe Clarke and Lyndon James found some late momentum in the powerplay.
Yet from 61 for one after six overs they were checked again by the Bears spinners, with both Clarke (26) and Matt Montgomery bowled by Lintott in consecutive overs as the Outlaws reached halfway at 86 for three.
Lintott picked up his third wicket when James cut straight to backward point for 37, but gave Moores a life on 21 when he spilled what should have been an easy boundary catch off Olly Hannon-Dalby.
It turned out to be an expensive miss in the context of the innings as the wicket-keeper made the most of that, and another slice of luck on 28 when a steepler off Glenn Maxwell dropped safe, by hammering sixes off Maxwell, Lintott and Hannon-Dalby twice as 45 were added in the last six overs.
But that was against the loss of six wickets as Pakistan international Ali signed off his Bears stint by having Steven Mullaney caught on the fence, trapping Matt Carter leg before and bowling Moores with the last ball of the innings after Maxwell had removed Imad Wasim, leg before, and Afridi via a catch at long-on before Stone was run out as the last three balls of the innings all brought wickets.
Any hopes of straightforward night for the Bears seemed to be obliterated in Afridi’s extraordinary first over, which began with five wides but then saw Alex Davies yorked and Chris Benjamin bowled attempting a scoop off the first two legal deliveries, followed by two singles and another two wickets off the final two balls, Dan Mousley falling victim to a stunning one-handed catch by Stone at short cover and Ed Barnard castled first ball by another stunning yorker.
More drama followed as Stone, playing in his first Blast match of the season after a long absence with a hamstring injury, had to leave the field after bowling just three balls. Yates began to assert himself with sixes off Carter and Ball but Maxwell bottom-edged into his stumps off Ball and the Bears were 60 for five.
Thanks to Afridi’s heroics, the Bears were three runs behind where they needed to be on the Duckworth Lewis Stone chart when rain brought an interruption with the visitors 76 for five after seven, but the break, which in the end cost no overs, gave the Bears time to gather their senses and at 101 for five after 10, with Yates having completed a 27-ball fifty that included four sixes, they were beginning to look favourites.
Bethell was run out in the 12th over, putting the outcome in the balance again with 51 needed from 50 balls, but as the requirement came down to 34 from the last five overs it was clear that the Outlaws needed to be rid of Yates if they were not to slip to defeat.
In the event, they claimed his wicket with the next ball as the left-hander sent a delivery from Ball skywards and Clarke took a fine diving catch at cover as Yates departed for 65. Ball raised home hopes again when he dismissed Hassan Ali with two overs left but Henry Brookes hit the winning boundary off Imad Wasim in the final over.
Yates said: “Even after that first over from Afridi, we still believed we could chase down their total. It is always a good wicket here and the outfield quickened up if anything with the rain. We have made runs here in the past and we felt if we could keep them to anything below 200 we would be right in the game.
“It was a bit chaotic in that first over but we were just thinking about rebuilding, putting together partnerships and we’re so proud of the way we stayed calm throughout. I had a bit of a rush of blood at the end, I should have been there to see us home a bit more comfortably but for Jacob and Jake Lintott to come in and play as they did was outstanding.
“We were a bit twitchy in the dressing room when we came off for rain and we were behind on DLS but in the over before we came off the ball was absolutely racing away and I was buzzing to get back out there.
“At the same time, I guess it did give us a few moments to gather our thoughts which was probably good for us.”
£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.