Birmingham Bears maintained their hopes of reaching the knock-out stages of the T20 Blast with a decisive victory over the Notts Outlaws. The Bears out-bowled and out-batted their opponents to win by six wickets with 22 balls to spare.
On a fine, but cool, evening and in front of a crowd of just under 9,000, the Bears laid the foundations for victory with a competent all-round display in the field. They restricted the Outlaws to 152-8, which never seemed likely to be enough.
The Bears were led to victory by a stand of 79 in just 44 balls between Ian Bell and Colin de Grandhomme. Bell completed his fifty and then fell to the persevering Luke Fletcher when the Bears were closing in on victory. De Grandhomme ended one short of his own half century but had blasted five sixes, mainly powerful leg-side hits.
The Outlaws’ innings never really got going. Rikki Wessels pulled Ollie Hannon-Dalby to deep square leg where Adam Hose took a fine two-handed catch, diving forward. Tom Moores picked out the same fielder at long on off Jeetan Patel; and when in the same over Alex Hales tried to pull a straight ball and missed, the writing was on the wall for the Outlaws.
Samit Patel and Steven Mullaney did their best, adding 52 together but they fell in quick succession, Mullaney hitting Hannon-Dalby to wide long on and Patel falling to a running, diving catch by his namesake Jeetan at long on that a man half his age would have been proud of.
When Dan Christian cut Grant Elliott to Ian Bell at backward point, the Outlaws were 105-6. From there, it was a struggle to get up to their 152-8, both Billy Root and Luke Fletcher perishing in the search for a viable total.
For the Bears, Hannon-Dalby was the stand-out bowler with 3-30 but Patel with 2-28, including 12 dot balls, was also, as per usual, a major contributor.
When the Bears batted, the writing was on the wall for the Outlaws when Ed Pollock clattered the first two balls from Samit Patel for six. Although he soon fell to Dan Christian and neither Adam Hose nor Sam Hain reached double figures, Ian Bell was in his best form. He and de Grandhomme took 18 off Ish Sodhi’s first over, hitting a six apiece.
De Grandhomme took further sixes off Patel, Mullaney and Gurney. Well before the end, the body language of the Outlaws’ fielders revealed that they knew that a heavy defeat wa inevitable. Only Gurney with 1-14 off his three overs will look at his bowling figures with any pride.
While the win for the Bears keeps their qualification hopes alive, the Outlaws now have only a remote chance of reaching the knockout stages.