The Birmingham Bears lost their second consecutive match in the Natwest T20 Blast as they fell to a nine run defeat at the hands of the Leicestershire Foxes, on a cloudy but muggy afternoon at Edgbaston on Sunday.
Chasing 148 to win, the Bears were always behind the rate and despite some late hitting from Colin de Grandhomme ultimately succumbed to a canny Foxes attack led well by Clint McKay who took 2-35. The Foxes have now won their first three matches in this competition, and if they continue to bowl like this will have every chance of progressing through to the knockout stages.
Put into bat, the Foxes got away to an absolute flyer mainly thanks to ex Bear Luke Ronchi, who scored a blistering 46 from just 23 balls on his return to Edgbaston. The Kiwi was the overseas star for Birmingham last year and punished a home attack, which did not get it quite right with the ball early on. Irishman Boyd Rankin eventually had the Blackcap caught by Sam Hain at mid-wicket. Rankin who has missed much of the season so far due to injury, finishing with impressive figures of 3 for 26.
However that was about as good as it got for the visitors with the bat, as despite being 72-1 from eight overs, regularly lost wickets thereafter and limped to a score of 147-8, with only fellow opener Cameron Delport getting a score of any note with 37.
In reply the Bears never really got going, losing wickets at regular intervals mainly due to the excellent spin bowling of Colin Ackermann, who took 3-21 from his four overs. His removal of both openers in Ian Bell and Sam Hain was crucial after the two had got the Bears away to a decent start.
He and Cameron Delport both restricted the runs for Birmingham, who were 64-3 after 10 overs and then could only manage a score of 138-8. William Porterfield top scored with 30 and Colin de Grandhomme hit a quick-fire 24, but when he was out, caught behind by Ronchi from the bowling of Pillans, that was it for the Bears.
Birmingham now face a tricky trip to Yorkshire on Friday looking to get their campaign back on track. On the 20th July, the Foxes further extended their win streak to four with a comfortable victory over Durham Jets.