Bears back on track with emphatic victory over Foxes
BIRMINGHAM Bears notched a first win in five matches at the start of a run of matches that is probably make or break for their Vitality Blast season.
Grant Elliott’s team won two of their opening three matches but the first half of their season was otherwise a disappointment and they went into this fixture next to bottom of the table.
But after Olly Stone had shown his quality and potential with a fine display of pace bowling even on a slow Grace Road pitch, Bears dismissed the Foxes for 143 in 19.3 overs.
With Adam Hose taking advantage of a dropped catch on 16 to go on to make a 34-ball unbeaten 66.
After Ian Bell - top scorer in the competition so far with 363 runs - had been freakishly run out for 34, Hose and Sam Hain eased the Bears to a win that could hardly have been more comfortable, their 95-run partnership getting the job done with 34 deliveries to spare.
Stone finished with three for 22, taking the key wicket of Mark Cosgrove in his second of his three overs in the powerplay and came back to stifle the home side’s bid to push up the total in the final overs by dismissing Ned Eckersley and Mohammad Nabi in the space of three deliveries with two excellent balls.
The Foxes, who won the toss and chose to bat in the hope of setting the Bears a challenging total after posting a massive 229-5 to thrash the same opponents at Edgbaston last month, struggled to build any momentum after losing Cameron Delport to the second ball of the night.
They had some joy against Aaron Thomason’s seamers and found Jeetan Patel in a more generous mood than usual but found Elliott and Chris Woakes a much more difficult proposition as both returned figures of two for 18 from their four overs.
Neil Dexter played well for his 56 but the former Middlesex batsman was pinned down after reaching 51 off 29 balls with a huge six over mid-wicket off Patel in the 10th over, who had his revenge when he pushed one through to bowl the opener in the 14th.
Dexter apart, it was a pretty undistinguished batting performance by the Foxes, who have lost all five of their home matches in the Blast so far.
Bell, whose T20 form has been outstanding in what has been a productive season all round for the former England batsman, had his eye in from the start, running up half a dozen boundaries in the powerplay as his side raced to 50-1.
The only casualty to that point had been Ed Pollock, who was a tad unfortunate to be bowled by a ball from the finger spinner Mohammad Nabi that kept very low, although Pollock’s footwork was not the best.
Bell, as ever playing classical cricket shots even in this form of the game, looked in ominously commanding form and it was a bonus for Leicestershire that he was the victim of a somewhat freakish dismissal as Callum Parkinson ran him out at the non-striker’s end for 34, although the bowler deserves credit for diving in follow-through to get a hand to Adam Hose’s firm drive, even if deflecting it on to the stumps was not necessarily his intention.
By contrast, Zak Chappell deserved no credit at all for letting Hose off the hook in Parkinson’s next over, when the batsman, on 16, gave the Foxes pace bowler what should have been a routine catch on the long-on boundary and was relieved to see the ball bounce out of the fielder’s hands. Chappell raised an apologetic hand, as well he might.
It was a costly miss as Hose went on to take full advantage as the Bears maintained their record of never having lost a T20 match at Grace Road, setting themselves up nicely for a busy weekend that involves trips to Derby on Friday night and Northampton on Sunday.