Leicestershire 152 for 9 (Steel 72, Mike 34, Lintott 4-27) beat Birmingham Bears 147 for 9 (Davies 43, Mike 3-30, Ahmed 3-36) by five runs
Leicestershire Foxes ended Birmingham Bears’ 100% start to the Vitality Blast season with a five-run victory at Edgbaston.
The Foxes mustered only a moderate 152 for 9 but then bowled and fielded excellently to restrict the home side to 147 for 9.
After the Foxes took first use of a good batting pitch, Steel played purposefully from the first ball but no-one else in the top order reached double figures as they faltered to 65 for 5.
Former Warwickshire loanee Mike helped pull the innings round with a stand of 60 in 31 balls but Steel did for his partner with a terrible call which saw him run out by Chris Benjamin’s throw from the covers.
Steel then became Davies’s fifth victim, the first of three wickets in the 18th over, from Lintott, which cost just one run. It was left to Ahmed to land a blow or two to get the total over 150.
Mike then struck quickly with the ball when Jacob Bethell chipped to midwicket. Rob Yates upped the pace to hit three fours and a six in a 13-ball 24 but then sent up a skier in a fine first over from Will Davis.
Paul Stirling lifted Callum Parkinson to long-on and when Ahmed removed Adam Hose lbw and Benjamin, caught at short third man reverse-sweeping, it was 89 for 5 and the Foxes were on top.
They stayed there. Colin Ackermann’s side kept taking wickets at vital times. Davies’ perky innings ended when he chipped Mike to backward point where Rishi Patel took a diving catch. Ahmed defeated Henry Brookes’ swipe to have him stumped and Carlos Brathwaite was left with only the tail for company.
The Bears needed some heroics from their captain but the Foxes bowled too well to permit them; with six needed to tie off the final ball, he could only manage a single.
“It was a great win for us,” Mike said. “Scott and I batted nicely together last night and I think we complement each other nicely. We thought we were still a little bit under par on a good pitch but taking wickets regularly was key to winning the game and that’s what we did. It was a very good day and the win keeps us right in the mix.”