A returning Varun Chopra fired the Bears to a nine wicket victory with an unbeaten 97 (58 balls, eight fours, five sixes) after the home sides bowlers had previously restricted Durham to 154 for 9 off their 20 overs.
Having won the toss and elected to field Ian Bell would have been elated as the first wicket fell in just the second over as Oliver Hannon- Dalby had Mark Stoneman caught behind by the Bears overseas star Luke Ronchi for just ten. Wickets then fell at regular intervals at the Jets batting line up struggled to maintain any momentum or to put together any meaningful partnerships.
Also returning to the side were Chris Woakes and Rikki Clarke, and both were on form with the ball as they took five wickets between them for just 50 off their combined eight overs. The other four wickets where shared between Hannon- Dalby, Jeetan Patel, Ateeq Javid and a run out as the Jets stumbled to 118-8 off 17 overs, with Ryan Pringle and Phil Mustard the only batsmen to make meaningful contributions- scoring 33 off 18 balls and 22 off 20 balls respectively.
At this stage it the Jets were in real trouble and it took a bit of magic from veteran Paul Collingwood to bump their score up to 154 off their 20 overs. Collingwood struck two sixes and two fours as he made 40 off 28 balls, biding his time and exploding in the final over with two straight sixes off the bowling of Hannon- Dalby.
The Bears would have been confident of chasing down this rather modest total despite the fact in form opener Sam Hain was ruled out with food poisoning. His replacement Chopra batted superbly with captain Ian Bell, who made 35 off 27 balls, as the first wicket partnership was only broken in the tenth over with 94 runs already on the board.
William Porterfield joined Chopra at the crease with the game pretty much won, the only question being whether Chopra would reach his century. Unfortunately for him he fell agonisingly short at 97* as the Bears reached their target with Porterfield playing a patient 18* off 21 balls.
Next up for the Bears is the Yorkshire Vikings at Edgbaston and they’ll surely be looking to build on their momentum after picking up two wins from their opening three T20 Blast fixtures.
Featured image courtesy of Birmingham Bear’s twitter feed (@BearsT20)