Ackermann claims world's best T20 figures
BLAST 8 | Leicestershire Foxes 189 for six beat Birmingham Bears 134 by 55 runs
SCORECARD | Available from Cricinfo HERE
POINTS | Leicestershire Foxes 2, Birmingham Bears 0
REACTION | To follow
REPORT | Colin Ackermann claimed the world’s best T20 figures to lead Leicestershire Foxes to a superb 55-run win against Birmingham Bears in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
Defending a total of 189 for six, the skipper took the first seven-wicket haul in T20 history to swing a close contest decisively in his side’s favour.
Two Leicester-born wicket-keepers had earlier shone as Harry Swindells (63, 50b, 6x4) posted his maiden Vitality Blast 50 while Lewis Hill played a terrific knock of 58 off just 28 deliveries (4x4, 3x6).
The Bears were 114 for two after 13 overs but lost their last eight wickets for 20 runs as off-spinner Ackermann wreaked havoc to end with the incredible figures of seven for 18.
Leicestershire Foxes were unsurprisingly unchanged from the win against Worcestershire Rapids and elected to bat first on a humid evening at the Fischer County Ground.
The Bears suffered a couple of setbacks in the build-up with overseas star Ashton Agar having returned to Australia with an ankle injury, and Olly Stone facing a fortnight on the sidelines with a back problem.
Mark Cosgrove drove the first ball of the game from Henry Brookes for four, and Swindells also nicked his first delivery to the third man boundary.
Fidel Edwards, who bowled a devastating opening over at Edgbaston, conceded three singles in the second over, before Swindells twice drove James Wainman for four in the cover region.
Cosgrove struck a trio of fours as 14 came off Edwards’ second offering, but was out for 20 (17b) in the fifth as off-spinner Alex Thomson enticed him to loft to mid-on.
The wicket did not hinder progress as Swindells smashed the returning Brookes through the covers for four before glancing a further boundary down to long-leg.
There was a productive seventh off Thomson as Swindells twice collected twos while Arron Lilley dispatched a quicker, shorter delivery to the ropes.
Swindells’ sixth boundary came flying down to third man off Wainman, and when Lilley greeted Patel’s arrival with two huge sixes to mid-wicket with a deflected four inbetween, 20 had come from the off-spinner’s opener and the Foxes were 96 for one at halfway.
Thomson collected his second wicket when Lilley (28, 14b) holed out to Sam Hain at long-off to end the stand at 58 before Ackermann (4, 3b) brought up the hundred with a terrifically executed sweep off his first ball.
The skipper was then strangled down the leg-side by Will Rhodes as Michael Burgess took a quite brilliant catch, bringing together the two local lads to great effect.
Swindells moved to 50 off just 36 balls (6x4) with a single off Patel while Hill lapped Rhodes to the ropes to open his boundary account.
Spinner Thomson (4-0-28-2) completed his tidy spell as the Foxes progressed to 137 for three with five overs to go.
The Foxes built on their platform by scoring 52 off the last five overs. Hill smashed the first ball of Edwards’ third over for six to mid-wicket and a terrific cut for four brought up the 150 at the end of the 16th.
Super drives over straight mid-wicket brought Hill a brace of sixes, but the stand ended at 62 when Swindells’ improvised stroke off Brookes landed in the gloves of Burgess.
Only three came off that impressive over from Brookes but Hill went two, two, four at the start of the penultimate over to move to 50 off only 24 deliveries (3x4, 3x6).
The next ball was also glanced to the ropes and a single, followed by two from Harry Dearden (2, 4b) meant that 15 came from it.
Brookes’ last over was a good one for the Bears; it saw five runs and a brace of wickets as he finished with excellent figures of three for 26, but the visitors still had a chase of 9.5 runs per over.
Sibley and Burgess each pulled to mid-wicket in the second over, and the former Fox also found the fence in the third with a classy flick in the same region.
But Burgess (10, 8b) was out as Dearden took a superb low catch at cover off Ackermann, and when Gavin Griffiths had Sibley (11, 10b) held by Lilley at mid-wicket in a brilliant opening over, the Foxes were in the box seats.
Hain and Adam Hose got their side back into the game with some clean striking – particularly from the former – as the score reached 77 for two at halfway.
Hose then put his foot down with a brace of sixes and a four as 22 came off the 11th, but Parkinson and Griffiths bowled tight overs as the scores were around level at the 13-over mark.
But Davis got the Foxes’ noses in front by bowling Hose (34, 24b) with a clever slower ball and conceding only four, and Ackermann rammed home that advantage.
He bowled Rhodes (2, 4b) with one that flicked the bail, held a low return catch to dismiss Liam Banks (2, 2b), and then turned one to disturb the stumps of Thomson (0, 2b) in a magical 15th over.
The spinner completed his five-for in his final over by having the dangerous Hain, who moved to 50 with his eighth four in the 13th over, caught by Lilley at deep mid-wicket for 61 (44b).
Ackermann claimed the further wickets of Henry Brookes (6, 5b), bowled, and Jeetan Patel (1, 2b), again held by Lilley at deep mid-wicket.
Davis wrapped up a second consecutive win by having Edwards caught by Griffiths at mid-off, meaning Leicestershire Foxes head into the next Vitality Blast against Northants Steelbacks on Friday evening (6.30pm start) in high spirits.
FIGURES | Parkinson 4-0-31-0, Klein 2-0-18-0, Ackermann 4-0-18-7, Griffiths 3-0-21-1, Davis 3.4-0-22-2, Lilley 1-0-22-0
TEAM | Ackermann (capt), Cosgrove, Swindells, Lilley, Dearden, Hill (wk), Aadil, Klein, Parkinson, Davis, Griffiths
BEARS | Patel (capt), Burgess (wk), Sibley, Hain, Hose, Rhodes, Banks, Thomson, Brookes, Wainman, Edwards
IMAGES | Thanks to John Mallett of Outside Off for providing the images throughout the game.