Blast Report: Steelbacks v Bears
Jake Lintott, Sam Hain and Pieter Malan took the starring roles as Birmingham Bears made it three Vitality Blast wins on the bounce with a 55-run victory over Northamptonshire Steelbacks at Northampton.
The Bears will face Leicestershire Foxes at the Upton Steel County Ground tonight full of momentum after beating a Steelbacks side which did the double over them in each of the previous two seasons.
Batting first, the Bears totalled 170 for three thanks to Malan’s first T20 half-century for the club (63, 45 balls, four fours three sixes) and Hain’s typically classy unbeaten 69 (42 balls, seven fours, one six).
It was a solid rather than imposing total on a good batting pitch and a fast outfield, but proved more than enough after a brilliant bowling performance.
The Steelbacks plummeted from 65 for two to 115 all out as Lintott took a career-best four for 20, Craig Miles two for 28 and Carlos Brathwaite two for 19 while Danny Briggs and Dan Mousley added took important wickets.
After choosing to bat, the Bears lost Ed Pollock first ball when he chopped Graeme White to backward point. When Will Rhodes lapped to short fine leg in the sixth over, it was 34 for two but Malan and Hain first shored up the innings then climbed into some glorious strokeplay in a partnership of 90 from 51 balls.
A sign of what was to come came from the 11th ball of the match, from Ben Sanderson, which Malan hoisted over long on for six. As the third-wicket pair accelerated, the tenth over went for 20 and the South African reached his half-century from 37 balls. He posted it with a six, flicked over mid-wicket off Tom Taylor, and repeated the shot next ball.
Malan finally fell in pursuit of another six when he skied Sanderson to the wicketkeeper, after which the Steelbacks bowlers did well to prevent a late charge from the Bears. Hain continued to work the round sweetly but, while Brathwaite middled plenty, he invariably found fielders and ended unbeaten on 19 from 19 balls.
Briggs took just five balls to damage the Steelbacks’ reply when Adam Rosssington chipped to Brathwaite at extra cover. The West Indian then took the ball for the fourth over and removed the dangerous Richard Levi, smartly caught by a diving Hain, inches from the ground at deep mid-wicket.
Ricardo Vasconcelos moved dangerously to 36 (27 balls) and the Steelbacks were advancing smoothly at 65 for two in the ninth over but were then rocked by the loss of three wickets for one run in five balls from the spinners.
Lintott struck twice in three balls, bowling Vasconcelos and Rob Keogh, before Mousley’s first ball bamboozled Saif Zaib to win an lbw decision.
The slide continued when Parnell lifted Lintott to at Malan at deep square leg. When Miles knocked out Taylor’s leg stump it was five wickets for ten runs in 21 balls.
Miles also castled Charlie Thurston then retreated to deep square leg to take the catch, from White, which gave Lintott his first T20 four-for. Nathan Buck cheered the home with a few clean hits in a lost cause before Sanderson hoisted Brathwaite to mid off when Rhodes took a fine tumbling catch to seal another fine win.