Birmingham Bears claimed their second t20 victory of the season, but were made to wait until the final ball to complete a five wicket win over Northamptonshire Steelbacks at Wantage Road. Wiliam Porterfeld anchored their successful chase of 147 with an unbeaten 55. Northamptonshire opted to bat first and the fun began in Oliver Hannon-Dalby’s second over which produced 19. Richard Levi bludgeoned one of three sixes in the over through mid-wicket, then two balls later, guided a shorter delivery over square leg. David Willey followed suit by scattering the Northants committee on the Spencer Pavilion balcony at long-off.
Despite the loss of the England allrounder for 13, the home side had a promising 47 on the board at the end of the powerplay. But Cobb was stumped and Alex Wakely was caught in the deep inside three deliveries, to leave the 2013 champions 63 for 3 after 9 overs. Levi offered a life when on 43 but the South African battled through to reach 50 off 39 balls. However, his wicket for 53 was one of three to fall inside five balls – two of them to Hannon-Dalby who had recovered his composure to finish with 2 for 35. Northants were 138 for 7 after 18 overs, and although Rob Keogh and Rory Kleinveldt scampered for 19 off the last two overs, 146 for 7 seemed just short of par. While the home bowlers beat the bat regularly, Varun Chopra and William Porterfield kept nudging the Birmingham reply along with boundaries at regular intervals. The opening pair had a reassuring 33 on the board after 5 overs, but Chopra’s edge to Rossington for 16 off Rory Kleinveldt in the 6th over gave the home side hope. When Azharullah bowled Lewis off the final ball of the 12th over, Birmingham still needed 68 off the last eight overs. A superb running catch from Rob Keogh on the deep cover removed Laurie Evans for 10 for Azharullah’s second wicket and the boundaries dried up completely after Rikki Clarke fell for 27 off 14 balls in the 18th over.
Porterfield got to 50 off 48 balls, but the visitors still needed 9 off the final over in which two wides from Azharullah didn’t help the home side – one of which produced loud boos from the Wantage Road crowd. With 3 runs wanted off 2 balls, the batsmen sprinted for two but Javid was run out, looking for the winning run. With the scores tied and Northants looking to rescue a point, Porterfield missed the final ball, but so too did wicketkeeper Adam Rossington standing up to the stumps and byes ensured Birmingham sneaked home in tighter circumstances than they might have wanted.