Birmingham Bears returned to winning ways in the NatWestT20Blast with a six-wicket win over Yorkshire Vikings at Edgbaston.
The result reasserted Birmingham among the North Group front-runners after Friday’s defeat to Leicestershire but wrecked Yorkshire’s hopes of building momentum after their conquest of Notts Outlaws.
Yorkshire amassed 132 for seven, a workmanlike affair including 53 dot balls and only eight fours. Jack Leaning’s contributed a T20-best 45 (44 balls) but, on a slow pitch, no-one achieved fluency against disciplined bowling led by Recordo Gordon’s three for 30
After early wobbles, Birmingham eased to victory thanks to William Porterfield’s punchy 42 from 29 balls and then a measured fourth-wicket partnership of 66 in 49 balls from Tim Ambrose (46 from 38) and Laurie Evans (an unbeaten 32 from 25).
Yorkshire chose to bat but lost four wickets in the first six overs. Rikki Clarke’s opening spell of 4-1-18-1 included the first T20 maiden for the Bears for three years and the wicket of Andrew Gale, caught behind. Clarke also took a catch at mid-on to remove Andrew Hodd.
Gordon then struck twice in his first over, ousting Alex Lees thanks to a brilliant catch by wicketkeeper Ambrose and, two balls later, Glenn Maxwell who aimed for the Hollies Stand but found only Evans at deep square leg.
As wickets fell Aaron Finch had to bat watchfully . He made 30 from 32 balls but fell trying to cut young spinner Josh Poysden. It was left to Leaning to prop up the innings. Reprieved off successive balls on 31, the 21-year-old added 39 in five overs with Tim Bresnan before lifting the last ball of the innings to long on.
Birmingham’s innings started rockily as Maxwell took wickets in his first two overs. Ian Bell was bowled through an attempted cut and Varun Chopra lifted to mid-off to depart for three. With just five runs in his last three innings, could the captain be the man to make way for Brendon McCullum on Friday when the Kiwi makes his Birmingham debut away to Lancashire Lightning?
William Porterfield got the innings going with his fifth successive score of 37 or more in T20. After he pulled a James Middlebrook long hop to deep mid-wicket, Ambrose and Evans showed all the composure and shot-selection which the Vikings had lacked to time the pursuit to perfection.