Back to back fixtures can often prove a tough experience, but provided the perfect platform for the Birmingham Bears to bounce back into winning ways against Yorkshire Vikings on a busy Father’s day fixture.
Yorkshire were the ones who won the toss and decided to bad first – a decision that never looked to really be in their favour as the batsmen struggled to time the ball, losing 4 wickets in the powerplay.
The first wicket came in the 3rd over as captain Andrew Gale edged a ball to Tim Ambrose off the bowling of Rikki Clarke for just 9. The Bears were also quick to take a second, taking Andy Hodd for just 2 in the following over.
With only 2 overs left of the power play, Yorkshire looked to add runs with Aaron Finch taking the strike allowing Alex Lees to asses the pitch. However it was in vain as Recordo Gordon started his bowling spell to tear through the core of the Vikings team.
After bowling a front foot no ball, Gordon came back well to force Lees to edge to the keeper seeing him gone for 4. Glenn Maxwell was the next man out who, partnering his fellow countryman could spell danger; but Gordon dismissed any threat, causing Maxwell to hit his second ball high into the sky for Laurie Evans to take at deep square leg.
Birmingham looked hungry to take wickets with both the bowlers and the fielders looking sharp and on their game, which was more than what could be said for Friday’s performance where you never really believed they could force a wicket to fall and really punish the batsman’s mistakes.
At the end of the powerplay, Yorkshire had only amassed 36 with only Finch hanging around before Jack Leaning entered to build the only real partnership for Yorkshire.
Keith Barker was given the 10th over to bowl, his first since the opening T20 game, and it showed as he went for 14 runs, with wides and a no ball adding to his misery. It was in stark contrast to the control showed by Jeetan Patel at the other end who restricted the batsmen to singles only.
Josh Poysden was therefore introduced to provide spin at both ends, with the youngster doing a great job of matching Patel’s conservative spell. With his 3 overs, he was only dispatched for 15, taking the wicket of Aaron Finch to break his long stay at the crease, when he played onto his own stumps.
The last 5 overs saw Yorkshire add 46 runs to the total, despite losing the wickets of Tim Bresnan for 16 and Leaning with the last ball. It saw Recordo Gordon finish with man-of-the-match winning figures of 3-30 off 4 overs.
Birmingham were set a target of 133 to win and came out all guns blazing, with Ian Bell playing a classy shot with the first ball to reach the boundary. However, once again, Bell lost his wicket cheaply, trying to cut against Glenn Maxwell only to be clean bowled. The next wicket was of captain Varun Chopra, who hasn’t been in the best of form recently, going for only 3 runs.
For the second innings in a row, up stepped William Porterfield and Tim Ambrose to drive the Bears forward. Porterfield raced to 42 off 35 balls before James Middlebrook got his wicket, with Leaning taking the catch. Ambrose then took over the scoring initiative to put the Bears to within 1 run of victory before losing his wicket, having scored 42.
This was aided by the attacking flair of Laurie Evans, who had played a more of a supportive innings against Leicestershire, but was not afraid to play his own shots here, finishing with an unbeaten 32 from 25 balls, scoring the Bears only 6 of the game.
Rikki Clarke was the man who wrapped things up, edging a ball to the fine leg boundary to give Birmingham the win by 6 wickets. The Bears now sit joint top of the table with Worcestershire, with a game less played than Durham and Leicestershire below them.
After the match, skipper Varun Chopra praised the innings of Porterfield, Evans and Ambrose in particular, as well as being impressed with Josh Poysden’s work. You can listen to the full interview below.
All images courtesy of Ed Bagnall.