Vitality Blast week four

Vitality Blast week four

The Blast now takes a break for two weeks as Championship cricket returns, with plenty of competitive action left to decide who goes through from the North Group. Meanwhile in the South, Surrey and Sussex are stamping their mark, while Somerset look well capable of defending their title. There may however be a change in fortunes as a number of sides will have a new look for the second half of the group stages, with players returning from the World Cup.

The Bears have moved to the top of the North Group following two wins this week. They had a comfortable result against Northants Steelbacks, posting 219/4 with 20-year-old Jacob Bethell making 56 not out from just 16 balls. The Steelbacks were never in the chase, stuttering to 129/9, Bethell picking up 2/18. However, the Bears suffered an injury to Richard Gleeson who picked up a side strain. It did not halt their progress as they saw off Worcestershire Rapids the next evening, despite also being without Chris Woakes. Runs all down the order saw the Rapids to 155/7, but Bethell was again in blistering form as he made 71 not out from 45 balls alongside Sam Hain (76) and the Bears got home with five wickets and 13 balls to spare.

Lancashire Lightning had just one outing this week, this time against Yorkshire Vikings and fell seven runs short of chasing down a target of 174. The Vikings’ total was based on a 124 run third wicket partnership between Joe Root (43) and Shan Masood (61), Chris Green taking 2/21. Keaton Jennings was the mainstay of the Lightning’s chase with 46 from 24 balls, but no one could stay with him. The Vikings were unable to build on that win, falling to Durham on Friday night. Graham Clark’s 49 helped Durham to 170/6 and the Vikings looked in control as 54 from Adam Lyth had helped them to 149/5, needing just 22 runs from the last three overs. Ben Dwarshuis bowled the 18th over, conceding just five runs with the set batter Donovan Ferreira (21) run out by a direct hit from deep midwicket from Nathan Sowter. Nine runs off the penultimate over bowled by Ben Raine left Dwarshuis defending seven runs and he was up to the task, conceding just four. The win moved Durham back above the Vikings, one place below a quarter final spot.

The two teams directly above them, Leicestershire Foxes and the Steelbacks could not be separated on Friday night, Lewis Goldsworthy edging the last ball of the match (his first) to the third man boundary for four to tie the scores. Raphael Weatherall was the unlucky bowler, having dismissed Peter Handscomb (43) and Ben Cox earlier in the over. The Foxes had been set a target of 209 thanks primarily to 71 off 48 balls from David Willey, playing his 300th T20 match, at the same time passing 4000 runs in the format. The opening pair of Ricardo Vasconselos (24) and Matthew Breetzke (47) had got them off to a brisk start with the score 45/1 after four overs and despite a tight spell of 1/27 from Scott Currie’s four overs, which slowed things down briefly, Willey led the home side to a challenging total. Rishi Patel has been the Foxes leading run scorer so far and moved clear at the top of the competition’s rankings with an equal fastest T20 century for the club, making 104 from 45 deliveries. Handscomb’s was the only other significant score as they just failed to get over the line.

At Nottingham, Notts Outlaws beat Derbyshire Falcons by eight runs, Joe Clarke’s 47 the mainstay of the Outlaw’s 173/5. Aneurin Donald has been explosive at the top of the Falcon’s order and he posted 52 from just 26 balls, but despite 40 from Wayne Madsen, the Outlaw’s held out thanks particularly to Ben Lister who conceded a total of just eight runs from the 17th and 19th overs, taking the wickets of Ross Whitley and Madsen. Both teams will find it tough now to qualify.

In the South Group Surrey are back at the top, whilst Somerset have slipped down slightly following their surprise defeat to neighbours Gloucestershire. 79 from Tom Banton helped Somerset to a defendable 188/4, but they were blown away by the striking of Ollie Price and Ben Charlesworth who put on an unbeaten 82 off 32 balls for the sixth wicket. Price’s 43 came off 15 deliveries and Charlesworth made a 19-ball 36 as Gloucestershire got over the line with eight balls to spare. This was Somerset’s first loss in five games and the defending champions still look well set.

Gloucestershire are keeping in touch having registered two wins this week. On Thursday night they travelled to Cardiff and looked well set at the halfway mark, having restricted Glamorgan to 140/6. This total was down to a patient 46 not out off 42 balls from Sam Northeast, the lowest not out total by a player to have batted the whole 20 overs in the Blast. Matt Taylor was the pick of the Gloucestershire bowlers with 3/21 and the pitch was giving some assistance to the seamers such that Gloucestershire did not bowl any spin. That was borne out when an opening four over spell of 2/8 from Timm van der Gugten had helped reduce Gloucestershire to 33/4 after eight overs. That became 90/7 at the end of the 16th over, but Jack Taylor was still there. He hit 16 runs off the first three balls of the 17th over bowled by Dan Douthwaite, Marchant de Lange helping with another boundary. Mason Crane conceded just three runs in the 18th over leaving 27 needed off the last two. Two boundaries from Taylor helped reduce the requirement to 11 off the last over, but Andy Gorvin kept things tight, bringing about the run out of Taylor with seven still needed from two balls. Two from the penultimate ball left Josh Shaw needing a maximum off the last for the win. A low full toss was dispatched over the long on boundary to end a seesaw battle. Glamorgan will rue five dropped catches, putting down Taylor twice, while Taylor’s 70 off 48 balls meant he was the only Gloucestershire batter to score more than 14.

Surrey had two easy wins this week against two of the weaker sides. Forties from Laurie Evans and Tom Curran took Surrey to 185/9 against Middlesex, Luke Hollman taking 5/16 with his leg spin. In reply another five wicket haul, this time from Sean Abbott, helped reduce Middlesex to 129/8 from their 20 overs. Surrey then beat a lacklustre Glamorgan side who were held to 107/9 thanks to three wickets each from Abbott and Gus Atkinson. Surrey then raced to the target in nine overs, Dom Sibley making 44 off 26 balls.

Sussex Sharks continued their excellent campaign, picking up wins against Kent and Hampshire. Harrison Ward made 61 off 28 balls as the Sharks posted 201/7 against the Spitfires and then restricted the visitors to 170/7, despite a half century from Sam Billings. Danny Lamb had a good all round game for the Sharks, making 40 off 23 balls and then taking three wickets. They then moved on to Southampton where lower order runs helped the Sharks to 184/8. Nathan McAndrew plundered 32 off 11 balls and he was then instrumental in keeping the Hawks batting in check, going for 1/21 off his four overs. James Vince and Joe Weatherley both made fifties, but they fell seven runs short.

The Hawks also went down to the Essex Eagles, who sit in fourth place. 48 from Weatherley helped the Hawks to 166/7, but then Dean Elgar made an unbeaten 60 from 44 balls as the Eagles got home with eight wickets and 19 balls to spare. The Eagles had an equally comfortable win against the Spitfires, chasing down 156/7 with five overs in hand, Michael Pepper making 76 from 42 balls. The Eagles and Gloucestershire may end up fighting it out for the fourth quarter final spot, with the Hawks needing a strong run after the Championship break, to get back in contention.

The South Group continues to look the stronger, with Surrey and Somerset the favourites. The Sharks keep putting in winning performances on the back of some well known names who are delivering. The likes of Tymal Mills and Daniel Hughes could take them all the way. Meanwhile the Bears should be confident of going through to the quarter finals.

North Group

PosTeamPlayedWonLostTiedN/RNet RRPoints
1Birmingham Bears86200+1.06112
2Lancashire Lightening85300+1.23110
3Leicestershire Foxes84310+0.3029
4Northamptonshire Steelbacks84310-0.4339
5Durham Cricket84301-0.7999
6Yorkshire Vikings84400+0.1968
7Derbyshire Falcons83500+0.2156
8Notts Outlaws82501-1.5065
9Worcestershire Rapids 82600-0.5564

South Group

PosTeamPlayedWonLostTiedN/RNet RRPoints
2Sussex Sharks86200+0.54512
3Somerset 85300+1.3410
4Essex Eagles85300+0.39410
5Gloucestershire 84310+0.2099
6Hampshire Hawks 82402-0.6396
8Kent Spitfires82600-0.5414


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