Foxes lose out at Edgbaston
BLAST 2 | Birmingham Bears 117 for three beat Leicestershire Foxes 115 for nine by seven wickets
SCORECARD | Available from Cricinfo HERE
POINTS | Birmingham Bears 2, Leicestershire Foxes 0
REACTION | Foxes T20 captain Colin Ackermann spoke to Foxes TV following the Bears fixture. Click HERE to watch the full interview.
REPORT | Birmingham Bears debutant Fidel Edwards took three wickets in the first over of the game as Leicestershire Foxes suffered a seven-wicket Vitality Blast defeat at Edgbaston.
Harry Dearden (27, 23b) and Colin Ackermann (26, 28b) shared an innings high partnership of 45 for the fourth wicket, while Lewis Hill and Ben Mike scored 19 apiece as the Foxes recovered to post 115 for nine.
The Bears were only narrowly ahead after seven overs, with Callum Parkinson (4-0-24-1) particularly impressive, but they had the run rate in hand and then accelerated.
After the opening Vitality Blast match between the Foxes and Lancashire Lightning was abandoned without a ball bowled, the scene at Edgbaston was much more encouraging with warm sunshine.
The Foxes showed one change as Mark Cosgrove had gone through the concussion protocol, and he was immediately in the middle alongside Neil Dexter after home captain Jeetan Patel won the toss.
Edwards (4-0-22-4) set the tone with a perfect first over, bowling both openers without scoring, and then having No.3 Arron Lilley (1, 2b) caught by Adam Hose at deep backward square-leg to leave the Foxes at two for three.
The first dismissal was an outstanding delivery, seaming away to hit the top off Dexter’s off stump, Cosgrove then played on, and Lilley could also count himself unfortunate after a clean connection.
With Edwards’ opening partner Henry Brookes (4-0-21-1) also bowling with pace and accuracy, County needed to steady the ship.
Dearden opened the boundary account with a flowing cover drive off Edwards in the third over. Another nice stroke through mid-off brought a further four in the next offering.
The on-song left-hander drove through the covers at the start of the sixth and followed it up with a mighty pull for six as the Foxes recovered to 34 for three by the end of the powerplay.
After the quick bowling of Edwards and Brookes, the Bears could then count on the experienced finger spin of Ashton Agar (4-0-25-1) and Patel (4-0-24-2).
Ackermann gave himself room to drill Patel to the cover boundary but the off-spinner then bowled Dearden to leave the Foxes at 47 for four.
Although Hill (19, 13b) took a six and four from the first three balls of Agar’s third over, the slow left armer then enticed the ‘keeper into a checked drive that landed in the hands of Liam Banks at long-off.
Ackermann was then yorked by Will Rhodes (2-0-13-1) and suddenly the Foxes were back in trouble at 78 for six in the 13th over.
It was a tricky situation for Mike and Parkinson, who couldn’t press too hard on the accelerator at this stage with six wickets having been lost.
Mike pierced the gap at mid-wicket for a welcome boundary in the 16th over before Edwards returned to complete his four-for as Parkinson (7, 13b) top-edged high to ‘keeper Michael Burgess.
A super reverse-sweep off Patel brought Mike (19, 22b) his second four, but he was bowled by the canny slow bowler as the Foxes lost their eighth wicket in the antepenultimate over.
The Foxes could only yield five off the last two overs following impressive bowling by Brookes, who bowled Chris Wright (2, 5b), and Patel.
County opened with spin from both ends in Parkinson and Ackermann, and the move proved to be a shrewd one.
There was an appeal for both caught behind and stumped against Ed Pollock from the skipper’s second delivery, and the off-spinner then saw Burgess put down at square-leg off the fourth.
Pollock, who had clipped the first ball of the innings for four, went on to hit a further brace of fours before Burgess (3, 6b) struck Parkinson to Gavin Griffiths at mid-wicket.
The unlucky Ackermann then saw Pollock sky the ball in the vicinity of mid-off but it evaded the grasp of the diving fielder, and the left-hander made the Foxes pay by striking a straight six.
Klein put paid to Pollock’s eventful 16-ball innings of 27 when Mike took a safe catch at deep backward square-leg, and the Bears progressed to 42 for two off the first six.
Agar cross-batted a couple of straight fours to keep the Bears ahead of the rate, while Sam Hain sent a classic cover drive to the ropes and also cleared the short boundary in his useful innings.
The Bears were well ahead at 75 for two at halfway, and although Hain (31, 33b) was caught at deep square off Mike’s very first delivery in the competition, Agar (41no, 28b) saw his team home with some clean striking.
Leicestershire Foxes are next in Vitality Blast action at home to Yorkshire Vikings on Tuesday evening (6.30pm start).
FIGURES | Parkinson 4-0-24-1, Ackermann 2-0-18-0, Klein 3-0-32-1, Wright 2-0-12-0, Griffiths 1.1-0-9-0, Lilley 0.5-0-5-0, Mike 1.5-0-17-1
TEAM | Ackermann (capt), Dexter, Lilley, Cosgrove, Dearden, Hill (wk), Mike, Klein, Parkinson, Griffiths, Wright
BEARS | Patel (capt), Pollock, Burgess (wk), Hain, Hose, Rhodes, Banks. Agar, Thomson, Brookes, Edwards
IMAGES | Thanks to John Mallett of Outside Off for providing the images throughout the game