Report: Lancashire Lightning v Birmingham Bears, T20 Blast
Birmingham Bears qualified for the NatWest T20 blast quarter-finals with an extraordinary two-wicket victory over Lancashire Lightning at Emirates Old Trafford tonight.
The Bears looked to be coasting towards a straightforward win, reaching 145-1 by the start of the 15th over in pursuit of their 164 target following an opening partnership of 61 between Ed Pollock (49) and Dominic Sibley (53) and 84 between Sibley and Adam Hose.
When Jos Buttler stumped Hose for 49 off Matt Parkinson, it looked like the dismissal would have little effect with the visitors then needing 19 off 28 balls, but that was the catalyst for an astonishing quarter of an hour as Birmingham lost seven wickets for 15 runs in the space of 23 balls to find themselves on 160-8 at the start of the final over still needing four runs to win.
Junaid Khan took two wickets in the 16th over, including that of Sibley, Liam Livingstone took two wickets in two balls during the following over and Arron Lilley then took two wickets in three balls in the 18th over as the rest of the Birmingham batsmen seemed to panic as the pressure mounted.
The Bears were finally steered home by Jeetan Patel and Olly Stone who took three runs off the first two balls of the final over before Stone, with one run required and all the fielders in trying to save the single, drove the third ball high and straight into the Pavilion seats to clinch victory with three balls remaining.
It provided the crowd of just under 7,000 with a pulsating, if unlikely finale with defeat ending Lightning’s T20 campaign, although a win tonight would still have been insufficient to progress following Leicestershire’s win against Notts.
Earlier, Lancashire had posted a useful 163-4 from their 20 overs with Jordan Clark and Livingstone, who made 39 with two sixes and three fours, opening with a 51-run partnership in 6 overs.
Both departed to the spin of Josh Poysden in the 7th over, but Buttler and Dane Vilas picked up the scoring with an excellent 86-run alliance in 10 overs, Buttler also hitting two sixes and three fours in his 42-ball innings of 58, while Vilas contributed 30 from 27 as both batsmen fell near the end of the innings hitting out.
Ryan McLaren hit a six in the final over to take Lancashire to 163-4 which nearly proved to be enough.
Head Coach Glen Chapple felt the Birmingham powerplay, where the visitors scored 62-1 was crucial to tonight’s outcome.
“I thought we had made a reasonable score on that surface,” he said. “Normally we would have backed ourselves to defend it.
“I don’t think we set off in the bowling powerplay very well.
“I thought Birmingham played excellently. There was some very good batting and slightly under par bowling if we are honest. We didn’t hit our areas.
“Taking early wickets would have been key tonight. As we saw there was a late scramble and a flurry of wickets and we nearly snatched it out of nowhere. But it was improbable (that we could win) from the powerplay really.
“It was very strange at the end. We knew the pitch was turning and I thought their openers played exceptionally well, along with Hose who came in at three and played some very strong shots.
“A good powerplay was the way to chase that down. If they had been a bit negative up front, they would have really struggled (later).
“We only really bowled as well as we can after we took the third wicket and that was when we looked a different team. But equally, Birmingham did as well. It looked like they were trying to throw it away. But their top three had done the damage.”