Vitality Blast 2022 June 22nd: Birmingham Bears beat Northamptonshire Steelbacks by 6 wickets
Adam Hose and Chris Benjamin smacked half-centuries as Birmingham Bears tightened up the top of the North Group in a high-scoring encounter against Northamptonshire Steelbacks, as the Bears completed their highest successful chase.
Northamptonshire Steelbacks 211/6
Birmingham Bears 213/4
Result - bears won by 6 wickets
Hose played the anchor role with 63 off 44 balls, while Benjamin played the finisher part with an enthralling 58 from 31 deliveries, after Alex Davies had thrashed 42 from 18 while chasing 212.
Earlier, Chris Lynn continued his ridiculous form to return to the top of the Blast scoring charts, now with 443 runs, with his 59 and Saif Zaib was outstanding in his 74 – but it proved short in the six-wicket defeat.
The Steelbacks missed the opportunity to move to the top of the group with the top four teams all separated by a single point – with Derbyshire, Northamptonshire and the Bears on 14 points.
Northamptonshire won the toss and without a second thought asked to bat first on a belting quick pitch paired with lightning outfield and bright sunshine – 200 was always a bare minimum.
Lynn took his run tally at Wantage Road to 361, with an average of 120, but he initially took his time to get going. He was two off nine balls and six off 12 before heading to ‘Lynn-sanity’.
A swatted six over square, which never seemingly descended, got him going before a glorious on-drive was followed up by charging Carlos Brathwaite to clear the mid-wicket boundary.
Ben Curran had played a series of thumping straight shots before he played Brathwaite onto his stumps to end the 72-run opening stand.
That wicket somewhat slowed Lynn, he only scored 17 runs in 12 balls, he brought up his fourth fifty in five innings on the ground in 37 deliveries. The Australian was dropped on 52 and had only added a further seven runs before slicing to short third.
Zaib simply continued where he had left off the previous evening, where he managed a career-best 92. He earned a life on 12 – a second drop in a dismal fielding display – and immediately put it out his mind with a four-four-six combo which ended with a full toss disappearing over point.
The Buckinghamshire-born batter, whose third T20 half-century came up in a wicked 24 balls, demolished Craig Miles when he took him for 20, with 28 runs coming in the eight balls before falling to a spectacular long on catch.
The final three overs were all action as 39 runs were plundered and three wickets taken as the Steelbacks reached 211 for six – the eighth highest score in their history, but just their fourth largest on this ground in 2022.
That breathlessness only continued as Paul Sterling smashed 21 off Tom Taylor’s first over – which included sixes over long-on and off his legs – before the Irishman nicked off the first ball of the following over.
Sanderson struck again in his second over, which only went for one run, when Rob Yates was beaten and broke the bail, before the pressure paved the way for Taylor to pin Sam Hain in front.
Davies and Hose showcased some beautiful shot-play, especially on the cut and drive in a 69-run partnership that threatened to sway the game firmly in the visitors’ grasp.
But after striking back-to-back sixes off Freddie Heldreich, Davies got greedy and was bowled trying to slog-sweep a third, this time damaging the stump.
Just as the run rates were converging, Benjamin got going with a trio of sweeps, two going the distance and the other all along the floor, while Hose brought up his fifty with a six on the pull.
Benjamin’s fifty came in 28 balls – and included four maximums – as the pair put on exactly 100 to get the Bears over the line with seven balls to spare.