Birmingham Bears survive late Derbyshire surge to win high-scoring thriller
Birmingham Bears 200 for 6 (snake 55, Benjamin 48*) beat Derbyshire 197 for 8 (Guest 54, Lintott 2-30, Briggs 2-30) with three runs
Birmingham Bears survived a late rise from Derbyshire Falcons to win a close match against Vitality Blast North Group in Derby by three runs.
The Bears destroyed Northamptonshire the previous night, so things looked ominous for the Falcons as Paul Stirling took five boundaries from the first two overs.
The Irishman pulled Sam Conners deep into the crowd in the fourth, but when he tried to repeat the shot from the next ball, he holed into the deep midwicket.
Alex Davies brought in George Scrimshaw for 6 to bring the Bears to 54 for 1 at the end of the power play, but Jacob Bethell’s attempt to drive the fast bowler over the top ended up in the hands of mid-off.
Scrimshaw used the short ball well to control the run flow and when Sam Hain was stunned when he stepped out to drive Mark Watt and Davies got caught cutting Mattie McKiernan, the Bears had slipped to 89 for 4.
After McKiernan finished his spell, the Falcons looked like they were limiting the Bears to about 160, but Hose and Benjamin broke loose in the last five overs.
Watt went for 24 in the 16th and after Hose drove Kerr for six to reach 50 from 28 balls, Benjamin hit him for two more maximums with another 24 from the 19th.
Leus du Plooy and Wayne Madsen gave the Falcons hope, but when they fell into consecutive overs, the game went up.
The Falcons needed an improbable 112 from 10 overs, but McKiernan and Guest sparked the home fans’ hopes by adding 48 from 26 balls, with Brathwaite conceding 21 on the 16th over.
Henry Brookes added to the drama when he was taken over for two head-high full pitches in the 18th, but Brathwaite responded with a superb over that left the Falcons with 18 from six balls.
Guest cut Miles to the point line and then drove him for six before a no-ball shifted the odds again, but after picking Bethell on a deep midwicket, Miles recovered impressively to see the Bears cross the line.