Birmingham Bears returned to winning ways in the NatWest t20 Blast with a six-wicket win over Yorkshire Vikings at Edgbaston.
The result reasserted Birmingham among the North Group front-runners after Friday’s defeat to Leicestershire but wrecked Yorkshire’s hopes of building momentum after their conquest of Notts Outlaws.
Yorkshire amassed 132-7, a workmanlike affair including 53 dot balls and only eight fours. Jack Leaning contributed a T20-best 45 from 44 balls but, on a slow pitch, no-one achieved fluency against disciplined bowling led by Recordo Gordon’s 3-30
After early wobbles, Birmingham eased to victory thanks to William Porterfield’s punchy 42 from 39 balls and then a measured fourth-wicket partnership of 66 in 49 balls from Tim Ambrose (46 from 38) and Laurie Evans (an unbeaten 32 from 25).
Yorkshire chose to bat but lost four wickets in the first six overs. Rikki Clarke’s opening spell of 4-1-18-1 included the first T20 maiden for the Bears for three years and the wicket of Andrew Gale, caught behind for nine. Clarke also took a catch at mid-on to remove Andrew Hodd (two).
Gordon then struck twice in his first over, ousting Alex Lees (four) thanks to a brilliant catch by wicketkeeper Ambrose and, two balls later, Glenn Maxwell who aimed for the Hollies Stand but found only Evans at deep square leg to be out for a duck.
As wickets fell Aaron Finch had to bat watchfully. He made 30 from 32 balls but fell trying to cut young spinner Josh Poysden. It was left to Leaning to prop up the innings and reprieved off successive balls on 31, the 21-year-old added 39 in five overs with Tim Bresnan before lifting the last ball of the innings to long on.
Birmingham’s innings started rockily as Maxwell took wickets in his first two overs. Ian Bell was bowled through an attempted cut for five and Varun Chopra lifted to mid-off to depart for three. Porterfield got the innings going with his fifth successive score of 37 or more in T20.
After he pulled a James Middlebrook long hop to deep mid-wicket, Ambrose and Evans showed all the composure and shot-selection which the Vikings had lacked to time the pursuit to perfection.
Yorkshire skipper Gale said: “I have been pretty happy with our batting so far in the T20 games but it was disappointing today. We just seemed to keep finding ways to get out.
“We are by no means out of the reckoning in the group but we have got to put some wins together soon or we will be out of it.
“We have just got to take each game as it comes and try to string two or three wins together to get ourselves back up there. We have got to treat every game like a cup final.”
Birmingham captain Chopra said: “It was a very pleasing way to bounce back from the defeat on Friday. We were below par against Leicestershire but to come back and put in a performance like that is very encouraging.