A run of seven straight wins at Edgbaston for the Birmingham Bears was brought to a halt on Friday where they faced the Leicestershire Foxes, losing by 7 wickets.
It was a game the Bears may have entered into with complacency, having had wins against tipped favourites such as the Notts Outlaws, plus given how they’ve managed to thrash Leicestershire in the past. But the visitors would not lie down in what proved to be a difficult night for the Bears, but a great one for the Foxes.
Having played the night before against Derby, one might have expected the Foxes to be fairly fatigued, especially after defeat, but they were keen to set the record straight. They were able to pick up early wickets in the form of Varun Chopra and Ian Bell, who looked to be in good touch before Tom Wells took a fantastic catch. Up stepped Tim Ambrose, who had been moved up the order, to partner William Porterfield, forming the Bears only partnership of note.
They were able to put on 80 runs before spinner James Sykes was introduced, causing Porterfield to hit upwards not outwards, leaving Wells with a comfortable catch at long off, dispatching the batsman for 40 off 27 balls.
Laurie Evans was the next man in who played a largely supportive innings by his standards to Ambrose. It saw the Bear’s wicketkeeper reach his half century in 46 balls, before Evans was dispatched for 13 – clean bowled after a swing-and-miss. Rikki Clarke made an appearance playing some classy shots before losing his wicket to the bowling of Raine, caught by Umar Akmal trying to play down the ground.
The innings ended with the Bears posting 160 runs on the board, Ambrose unbeaten with 66 off 54 balls.
Leicestershire’s innings got off to a flyer, scoring 10 off the first over thanks to boundaries from Ned Eckersley. It was his fellow opener Mark Cosgrove who really set the tone for the Foxes. He was the main reason for Leicestershire’s ferocious runrate, up at 11.3 an over with just 7.5 required after the 3rd over. He posted 44 off 23 balls before falling LBW to Jeetan Patel with his 5th ball.
This followed the two quick wickets of Eckersley who was caught at mid on for 15, and Agathangelou who went for 1 with a great caught and bowled by Hannon-Dalby. Any feeling of a Leicester collapse after the two quick wickets was soon crushed by the partnership of Niall O’Brien and Umar Akmal.
They batted perfectly to the situation, steadying the ship during the middle overs before attacking the Bear’s full length bowling. They were able to do this thanks to the foundation laid by Cosgrove, seeing the Foxes 34 runs up at the midpoint.
The pair never really looked troubled as Akmal went on to hit an unbeaten half century, whilst O’Brien hit 40* in a match winning 93 run partnership. It sees Leicestershire jump to second in the table, a point ahead of Birmingham but with two games more played.
The Bears will be looking to bounce back against Yorkshire on Sunday who haven’t started their T20 campaign in the best of form, before the Bears add New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum to the squad in a week’s time.