Birmingham Bears mastered the home conditions to get back to winning ways against Yorkshire. The away side won the toss and elected to bat, but on a slow Edgbaston wicket they were reduced to 38-4 before Jack Leaning (45) and Aaron Finch (30) edged them to 132-7.
That total never looked enough—even when the Bears were 15-2—and the experience and nous of first William Porterfield (42) and then Tim Ambrose (46) and Laurie Evans (32) took them home comfortably to move them joint-top of the T20 Blast North group and send Yorkshire back to square one after their promising win over Notts Outlaws.
In cricketing terms, and in a literal sense, a battle between bears and Vikings should be a close thing, but Yorkshire have now lost all five T20 games they have played against the Edgbaston outfit.
Right from the beginning they suffered a mauling at the hands of the Bears’ bowling attack. Captain Andrew Gale started with two well-timed square drives but edged the ever-economical Rikki Clarke behind in the third over.
Andrew Hodd, who had smashed 70 off 39 balls against Notts on Friday, failed to repeat the trick, batting like a cat on a hot tin roof. He tried every shot in the book to Oliver Hannon-Dalby before he mistimed a pull shot to Clarke at mid-on to leave Yorkshire 20-2.
Alex Lees was then caught behind off the bowling of Recordo Gordon and when Glenn Maxwell top-edged a slower-ball bouncer from the same bowler to long leg, Yorkshire were in trouble at 38-4.
Gordon, who picked up the man of the match award, bowled with sharp speed, generated a bit of movement, but also regularly varied his pace to restrict the batsmen.
The wicket was the same as the one played on against Leicestershire on Friday, and by this point Gale may have been beginning to regret his decision to bat first. There were plenty of inside edges as Finch and Leaning struggled somewhat to rebuild the innings.
Finch was bowled trying to force a cut shot off Josh Poysden but Leaning, having been dropped by Hannon-Dalby on 31, soldiered on before he was caught at long-on from the final ball of the innings. Yorkshire posted 132-7, but there was always a sense that it would not be enough.
The Bears began tentatively and openers Ian Bell and Varun Chopra both fell to Maxwell within the first three overs attempting over-ambitious shots. Yorkshire had a sniff, but William Porterfield soon dampened their spirits with some fluent striking.
The Irishman crunched Tim Bresnan for consecutive boundaries in the fourth over and pounced on any width offered to progress serenely to 42, before he swatted a James Middlebrook long-hop straight to the fielder on the deep mid-wicket boundary to leave the score at 66-3.
From there the calm head of Ambrose took over. Alongside Evans he picked off any loose deliveries and found the gaps with ease. He was bowled by Steven Patterson trying to finish the game in style, but by that point the game was won. A leg glance Clarke took Birmingham Bears home to a well-deserved and comfortable win.
After the game Yorkshire captain Gale admitted he had misjudged the wicket: “The pitch played quite differently to how I thought it would. When the pace was off it was hard to score. We never found the pace of the pitch to move forward.
“I felt 160-5 would have been par on that wicket. We lost four wickets in the power-play and were chasing the game from there.”