Report: Yorkshire Vikings v Bears, Vitality Blast
Birmingham Bears qualified for next week’s Vitality Blast quarter-finals by defending a 239 target in a run-fest against fellow challengers Yorkshire Vikings at Headingley.
Birmingham’s 238 for five was the fourth highest total in this season’s Blast – they also hold the highest, 261 for two v Notts – and included 81 in 41 balls for Ireland opener Paul Stirling and a late career best 63 not out off 25 for Dan Mousley, who also claimed a wicket with his off-spin.
This was also the highest total Yorkshire have ever conceded. But they valiantly chased, finishing on 207 all out with Adam Lyth’s 69 their top score. Captain Carlos Brathwaite returned a season’s best three for 32 in a 31 run-win.
Fourth-placed Vikings head into Sunday’s final group game at Leicestershire, who are a point behind in sixth, with all manner of possibilities at play.
A win will qualify them, as will a tie or No Result on net run-rate, while they could also still finish in the top two places for a home quarter-final or be knocked out with a defeat.
The start was delayed by 35 minutes until 7.05pm following rain. But once play started, with the Bears inserted, Stirling got things moving quickly.
He hit two of his seven sixes off Matthew Waite as 20 came from the second over to move the score to 29 without loss. The first, over cover, was particularly eye-catching.
After opening partner Alex Davies top-edged a sweep to short fine-leg off Shadab Khan’s third ball – 42 for one in the fourth – Stirling continued his assault with sixes off Matthew Revis, Khan and Jordan Thompson in reaching fifty off 25 balls.
The latter took him to his milestone, with the Bears 103 for one in the ninth.
Sam Hain hit a breezy 25 in a partnership of 72 with Stirling, ended when Khan’s leg-spin had Hain caught behind in the 10th over, leaving the score at 114 for two.
Stirling fell lbw to David Willey and Chris Benjamin was superbly caught by Dom Bess running back from short fine-leg off Revis – 160 for four in the 15th.
But that only opened the door for 20-year-old left-hander Mousley to up the ante with two leg-side sixes in a 22-ball half-century and a third quickly afterwards.
Khan (two for 38) was the only one of six bowlers used to concede less than 10 runs per over. And that wasn’t the only statistic which made for tough reading for the Vikings.
Fourteen of the 20 overs cost double figures and 51 runs came off the last three.
But it was no surprise that Yorkshire made a flying start to their chase. Coming into this fixture, the sides had shared 10 totals of 200 or more in this season’s Blast.
Lyth and New Zealander Finn Allen took the Vikings to 51 without loss in only 3.4 overs. The only surprise was that included only one six, Allen reverse heaving Danny Briggs over backward point.
Allen hit a second off Bears captain Brathwaite in the fifth, only to get a leading edge to point for 29 later in the over, leaving the score at 67 for one.
Lyth continued to motor and reached his fifty off 32 balls, by which time it was 104 for two in the 10th. In that over, Jake Lintott conceded 21, while fellow spinner Danny Briggs conceded 16 off the next.
But Birmingham struck two key blows within three balls in the 11th and 12th overs, as the score became 133 for four.
Lyth got a leading edge off left-armer Briggs to backward point and Tom Kohler-Cadmore pulled Brathwaite to deep midwicket. At that stage, you felt as if the pendulum had swung firmly towards the visitors.
And so it proved as left-arm wrist spinner Lintott struck three, including Harry Brook stumped for 29. Brathwaite also struck again towards the end of a fixture featuring 23 sixes.