Sports Editor Oscar Frost reports on the Birmingham Bears dismantling an underscoring Leicestershire Foxes outfit
A match-winning inning from Sam Hain brought the Bears to a five wicket victory against the Leicestershire Foxes, despite some late wicket-taking from the home side.
Leicestershire won the toss and chose to bat, struggling their way to a total of 166 after some very solid bowling from the visiting side. It was perhaps defendable, but seemed not to be enough at face value against a strong Birmingham batting lineup at the uptonsteel county ground.
Chasing 167, the Bears looked to start strongly to assert their position in the match.
Callum Parkinson did well to dismiss Paul Stirling and Alex Davies in the third over, reducing the bears to 25-2. This put the Visiting side in the driving seat early doors, but the Bears had the firepower to put them back in the game.
The partnership between Hain and Glenn Maxwell was key to putting the Bears in a winning position. Poised at a point where the Bears could be struggling in the power play, they pushed on past their 50 partnership to put the Bears in a winning position.
Maxwell was eventually dismissed for 47 on his debut for the Bears. Him and Hain fell short of their century partnership, but with the Bears requiring 52 to win, it was the decisive blow in the match.
Hain pushed on to top-score the Bears for the past two games in a row, finishing on 65*. This means that he has combined for 148 runs in the first two games of this Vitality Blast campaign.
Danny Briggs was the star of the show for the Bears’ bowling attack, finishing on 3-15 from his four overs. This came at a pivotal point in the middle of the Leicestershire innings, slowing down the home side’s run rate considerably.
The foxes started off well, with Sol Budinger and Nick Welch coming just short of a 50 partnership. However, they were dismissed in consecutive balls, leaving Leicestershire at 49-2.
At 53-2 at the end of the power play, the game was very much still in the balance, with the Foxes’ collapse against Lancs earlier in the week no doubt on both sides’ minds.
At the halfway stage, Leicestershire were 84-2, which meant that they needed to pick up the pace to put up a good score against a strong Bears batting lineup.
The partnership of Arron Lilley and Colin Ackermann was good for 36 runs, but as Lilley was dismissed by Briggs it seemed that the Foxes were becoming increasingly pressured to score quickly.
Ackermann only got as far as 27 runs before giving up his wicket, driving down the throat of mid-off. Following his dismissal, the Foxes were floundering at less than eight per over.
Despite the wickets taken by the Bears, there were a couple of routine catches that were dropped. The most routine of these was Brookes dropping Rishi Patel while he was on just two runs, robbing Lintott of his first wicket of the match.
Patel then went on to top-score the Leicestershire innings on 28. The Foxes really needed to have another couple of batters to push on to bigger scores to put up a better total.
Overall, the Bears will be pretty happy taking away the win, although it perhaps could have been more emphatic against a sub-par Leicestershire score. Nevertheless, the Bears rise to two wins from two at the start of this Vitality Blast season.
The Bears will face Lancashire at Edgbaston on Monday, where one side will lose their 100% winning start to the season.
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