A hard-working team performance on a slow wicket enabled Birmingham Bears to beat Lancashire Lightning by one run in their NatWest T20 Blast North Group match at Emirates Old Trafford.

In what was a repeat of last year’s short-form final at Edgbaston, Liam Livingstone only scored a single off the final ball of the innings and the Lightning finished on 136 for seven in reply to the Bears’ 137-8

Having won the toss and opted to bat first, Varun Chopra looked on contentedly as New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum took three successive fours off Kyle Jarvis’s first over.

However, the opening pair’s progress then slowed a little and they had taken 32 runs off the first 34 balls overs of the Powerplay before McCullum was brilliantly caught for a 14-ball 18 when Lightning skipper Steven Croft raced across from long off to take a steepling catch off Jordan Clark.

Chopra and Porterfield then added 20 in three overs before Chopra holed out at long off or 40, Arron Lilley taking the catch off Stephen Parry to leave the Bears modestly placed on 69 for two in the tenth over.

Fluent run-scoring remained difficult on the wicket which had been used for Tuesday’s T20 international against New Zealand. Croft made good use of his trio of spinners and with the ball both turning and “sticking” in the Manchester pitch, the Bears were grateful for William Porterfield’s patient 38-ball 36.

Porterfield eventually holed out at long-on off Croft and the left-handed Ulsterman was one of four wickets to fall in the last two overs as the Bears innings ended on 137 for eight. An indication of the difficulties the batsmen faced was shown by the fact that Recordo Gordon hit the first six of the innings off the fourth ball of the final over.

Unsurprisingly, spinners returned the best analyses with Parry taking two for 19 and Croft two for 21. Left-arm seamer James Faulkner also took a couple of wickets at a cost of 26 runs.

Lancashire top order tried to make good use of the Powerplay overs and both Ashwell Prince and Karl Brown hit sixes early in the innings. But both these batsmen were also dismissed cheaply and Lightning were only 32 for two after six overs.

Paul Horton made 24 and Croft added 15 but Lightning’s batsmen found fluent run-scoring against spin quite as difficult as the Bears had done.

However, after Croft holed at deep mid-wicket off Ateeq Javid, Clark and Faulkner added 39 off five overs with Faulkner hitting Patel for a huge six into B Stand.

Clark’s dismissal, caught at point off a slower ball from Gordon, only brought Alex Davies to the wicket and Lancashire kept up with the asking-rate of ten runs per over.

Faulkner made 34 off 25 balls but he became one of Gordon’s four victims and the Bears’ resilient out-cricket finally saw them home in the tensest of finishes. Gordon finished with four for 20.