Bears crush Outlaws in Vitality Blast opener

Dan Christian
Dan Christian

Birmingham Bears gained revenge for defeat in last year’s final by comfortably defeating Notts Outlaws by eight wickets on the opening evening of this season’s Vitality Blast.

Set a victory target of 156, the Bears romped to the finishing line with 2.4 overs to spare, thanks to an impressive unbroken partnership of 121 between Ian Bell and Sam Hain.

And Notts captain Dan Christian was left frustrated by his team's display.

He said: "We never got any momentum and we were at least 30 under par but if we’d been able to take a few wickets early on, then you never know. Realistically, it was going to be difficult because whatever the wicket looks like here you know it is going to play well and it’s a small ground with a fast outfield.

“We lost our first two matches last year and still went on to win it, so it’s not the end of the world; we’ve just got to get back on the horse when we play Northants on Friday.”

Bell ended with 82 not out, made from 57 balls, with Hain, who hit the winning runs, making an unbeaten 45 as the Bears reached 159 for two.

Earlier, Notts were restricted to 155 for seven, after being asked to bat first in front of a Trent Bridge crowd of 12,394 spectators.

Riki Wessels top-scored with 41 for Notts, made from 29 deliveries, but the innings was only given some respectability by timely knocks from Luke Fletcher and Billy Root in the closing stages.

Root finished with an unbeaten 33 from 29 balls, whilst Fletcher hit Jeetan Patel for three sixes and a four from consecutive deliveries on his way to a 14-ball score of 27.

Samit Patel, man-of-the-match in last September’s final, was one of two ducks made in the early stages of the contest. Patel pushed his first delivery straight back into the grateful hands of Colin de Grandhomme, who returned figures of two for 24.

The other player who failed to score was Chris Nash, who endured a miserable T20 debut for the county. He was given out in the first over, to a catch at the wicket, from the bowling of Henry Brookes. Replays seemed to suggest that the ball brushed the 35-year old’s shoulder on its way through to wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose.

Nash then suffered further, when he injured himself diving in the outfield and had to be led off with a shoulder injury.

Harry Gurney, in his 100th T20 match removed Ed Pollock with his first delivery of the match and Ish Sodhi bowled Adam Hose but they were the only two successes as Notts used seven different bowlers in attempting to prise Bell and Hain apart.

Bell reached his 50 from only 33 balls and left it to Hain to finish the match with a clip through midwicket off Gurney.

Bears captain Bell said: "Obviously we are very pleased; it went well for us in the field and came on nicely when we batted. We’ve had a few warm-up games to knock the rust off and we’ve come here and hit the ground running.”

Asked if they can win it this year, he said, “It’s coming home!”