CRICKET: Twenty20 thriller for Ian Bell's Bears in Dubai
Three-wicket defeat for Warwickshire side
Picture: whiteoakpictures.co.uk (Dubai)
Birmingham Bears v West Indies
Report from Brian Halford
Sam Hain staked his claim for a first-team place in limited-overs cricket with a brilliant 85 as Birmingham Bears lost to West Indies by three wickets in a Twenty20 thriller at the Dubai Stadium.
Hain hammered 85 from 57 balls to lift his side to a challenging 157 for five in their 20 overs.
Spinners Ateeq Javid (4-0-18-2) and Josh Poysden (4-0-25-2) then pegged back the West Indies reply and the international side went into the last four overs still needing 43.
A ferocious assault by Darren Sammy (34, 17 balls) and Ashley Nurse (25, nine) got them over the line with seven balls to spare. But it was another highly creditable effort from Birmingham, captained by Laurie Evans and fielding a much-changed team from that narrowly beaten in the first game in the two-match series last Friday.
“There were some really good performances from some of our guys,” Evans said. “It was disappointing to lose but to have pushed a side as good as West Indies so close in both games reflects an awful lot of credit on our players.
“Sam Hain batted really well against a high-quality bowling attack. It was the sort of pitch where it was difficult getting in and he stayed there when we lost a few wickets and gave us something to bowl at. I think it was a total about par or even a bit over in those conditions.
“Then West Indies came out all guns blazing but Teeqy and Josh bowled brilliantly to get us back into it. For most of the bowlers it was their first bowl outside this year, so it was a really good effort but we just ran into some world-class hitting at the end.”
The Bears batted first and were given a sound platform by Hain and Jonathan Trott (28, 24 balls). Twenty-year-old Hain, who has never played a senior T20 game for the Bears, reached his half-century from 42 balls before accelerating to spectacular effect, scoring 35 from his next 15 balls. Tim Ambrose added valuable support with an unbeaten 29 (20 balls).
West Indies’ reply started with fireworks from Johnson Charles (48, 26 balls) but Javid and Poysden bowled skilfully to put a brake on the scoring. They were supported by excellent catching, Evans clutching two fine boundary catches and Ian Westwood taking a blinder at deep mid-wicket to dismiss the dangerous Dinesh Ramdin.
West Indies went into the last four overs needing more than ten an over, a tallish order, but Sammy and Nurse unveiled the sort of clean hitting which West Indies hope will take them to ICC World T20 glory later this month.