Cricket

Unbeaten fifties to Adam Hose, Chris Benjamin lead Birmingham Bears to victory over Northamptonshire


Birmingham Bears 213 for 4 (Hose 63*, Benjamin 58*, Sanderson 2 for 18) beat Northamptonshire 211 for six (Zaib 74, Lynn 59) by six wickets

The time of reckoning is upon us within the Blast and Birmingham responded to it by swinging to the leg-side more durable and extra typically. They remained in contact with Northants’ 211 for six from the outset, and regardless that they wanted 77 from the final six overs, they broke the goal with a cruel assault on the Northants’ left-arm wrist spinner, Freddie Heldreich as they pulled off the best T20 chase of their historical past.

Adam Hose is as uncomplicated a T20 batter as you may get, an unabashed seeker of deep midwicket. Put the ball in his arc and his lengthy limbs will deposit the ball skywards. Chris Benjamin typically appeared scratchy, however give him half a possibility and he can goal the identical area in harmful vogue. Both made unbeaten half-centuries, their shot choice wonderful as their stand of 100 rattled alongside in 54 balls.

Carlos Brathwaite, Birmingham’s captain, exudes leisure and confidence, good attributes at this stage of the season. “We’ve been reckless at times this season,” he stated. “We wanted to be positive, express ourselves, but bat a lot smarter.”

Birmingham go second in North group with this victory whereas Northants now slip to fourth and can sense Yorkshire, specifically, scenting a possibility to overtake them.

Heldreich, who went for 59 from 4 overs, should have felt himself intentionally focused. Alex Davies’ whirlwind 42 from 18 balls set the tone. Successive sixes over long-on appeared to have put the bowler in his place, however Heldreich is a assured kind and, together with his subsequent ball, he drew Davies right into a wild sweep and bowled him off a backside edge.

But it was not the bowler’s night time. Chris Benjamin appeared out of contact till he launched him over the leg-side for 6-4-6 in successive balls. Converging boundary fielders had been crushed by inches and Heldreich winced, not the primary bowler to marvel why the boards couldn’t be pushed again to fairer proportions. With 59 wanted from six, Birmingham’s head coach Mark Robinson, a little bit of a poker face lately, flashed a smile for the primary time on the night time. By the top Jake Lintott, sat subsequent to him within the dugout, had him roaring with laughter: when Birmingham are batting, the dugout is the place Robinson needs Lintott, for extra motive than one.

Birmingham had misplaced three wickets for 64 by the top of the powerplay. Paul Stirling took Northants for a career-best 119 in a memorable Birmingham debut, together with 5 consecutive sixes off James Sales, however he has been wanting runs since. He biffed 17 from Tom Taylor’s first over, however that was that.

The motive for that was Ben Sanderson, an old school seamer however extremely efficient as he nibbled the brand new ball each methods off the seam, having Stirling caught on the wicket off an inside edge and silencing Rob Yates with a bail-trimmer. Sam Hain, the lynchpin of the Bears’ line-up, is having to cope with a again pressure, and there was normal delight when Taylor returned to the assault and instantly had him lbw to a yorker.

Northants’ batting stays closely reliant, maybe overly reliant, upon the Australian Chris Lynn, whose 59 from 43 balls strikes him alongside Somerset’s Rilee Rossouw on the prime of the Blast run-scorers with 443 runs apiece. Rossouw has a sooner scoring price (191 to 161) and has struck probably the most sixes, however over the event there have been no extra violent batters within the nation.

There had been instances when Lynn felt comparatively reserved, as if conscious of the obligations that relaxation upon him. Initial evaluation was essential as a result of Olly Stone, on the bottom the place his profession started, was unsettlingly quick and bouncy with the brand new ball. Stone is recovering cautiously from his fourth stress fracture in 5 years, however warning is thrown to the winds at any time when he will get the ball in his palms.

Somehow, Northants nonetheless emerged from the powerplay with 53 to their identify. Ben Curran had additionally been troubled by Stone’s tempo and bounce on a wonderful, recent pitch, surviving one bat-handle crusher with a cry of “where did that come from?” as he made it to the protection of the non-striker’s finish. He fell after a gap stand of 72, bowled by Brathwaite as his defensive block spun again onto his stumps.

Lintott’s avuncular left-arm wrist spin did for Lynn, who carved a ball angled throughout him to quick third, however Saif Zaib quickened the impetus, his 74 taking solely 32 balls, when he swung Lintott to lengthy off. He was assured, steely-eyed and filled with function. A particular, long-term breakthrough has been a very long time coming, and he has had a skinny time within the Championship this season, however he has extra expertise, if not higher outcomes, than some batters holding Hundred offers. A career-best 92 from 58 towards Derbyshire in Northants’ defeat the earlier night time, and now this: this time, at 24, he must make it pay.

Birmingham gave each Lynn and Zaib lives within the subject. Zaib was solely 12 when he reduce Craig Miles to deep level, however Yates, sliding in, did not retrieve a half-volley probability. Benjamin’s miss at deep midwicket, off Brathwaite, when Lynn was 52, most likely owed a lot to a low night solar and he was lucky to not take a blow within the face. The County Ground is hardly probably the most vociferous crowd within the nation, however probably the most raucous spectators sit on this space, preying upon fielders like Great White Sharks exploiting the angle of the solar to search out their prey. Long earlier than the top, Birmingham had been firing sixes of their course

David Hopps writes on county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps



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