Raine hits second fastest hundred to set suitors abuzz
Leicestershire 229 for 5 (Raine 113, Cosgrove 42) beat Birmingham 129 (Raine 2-28, Nabi 2-13) by 100 runs
A brilliant century from Ben Raine lifted Leicestershire Foxes to a 102-run victory over Birmingham Bears in the Vitality Blast at Edgbaston.
Former Durham all-rounder Raine smashed his way to 100 from just 41 balls, the second-fastest T20 century by an Englishman, on his way to a blistering 113 from 46 balls with eight fours and ten sixes.
Leicestershire are desperate to keep Raine on their books, valuing his combative talents with bat and ball, but he is being pursued by a number of counties - and nights like this will not do anything to calm them down.
His first century in any format for Leicestershire featured some magnificent straight hitting and lifted the Foxes to their record T20 total - 229 for five.
Raine then took two wickets in his first over to leave Birmingham's reply in early disarray 36 for three. There was no way back from that for the Bears who folded to 127 all out with five overs unused to leave the Foxes - the North Group dark horses - with their record T20 win and both teams with two wins and two defeats from four games in the North Group.
Raine said: "It was one of those night when everything came off. You have got to back yourself and I am not worried when I come up against good teams like these. The coaches have come up with a lot of strategies for my white-ball game and I have come up with a method which has been working for me this season. "For me, it's not a shock that an innings like this has come along. I knew I had it in me."
Put in, the Foxes were flying from the word go as Cameron Delport blasted 27 from 14 balls before sending up a skier off Olly Hannon-Dalby. Four balls later, Dom Sibley took a smart catch at cover to remove Neil Dexter but the fielder might soon have reflected that he'd have been better off dropping it as Raine launched his onslaught.
He raced to 50 from 21 balls, reaching his half century in the midst of a barrage which brought 20 from four balls from off spinner Sibley.
Raine sustained his punishment of a Bears team which was untypically ragged in the field. He dominated a third-wicket partnership of 142 in 66 balls with Mark Cosgrove (42, 41 balls, three fours, one six) and departed, having skied a return catch to Colin de Grandhomme, to a standing ovation from the home fans who appreciated the quality of Raine's hitting even at the expense of their own team.
Under immense pressure from the word go, Birmingham took 17 from the first over but that pressure soon took its toll. Ed Pollock (25, 14 balls) was bowled by Colin Ackermann's third ball before Raine's golden day got even better as his fourth and sixth deliveries removed Ian Bell and Sam Hain, caught at deep fine leg and extra cover respectively.
Raine had not finished, taking a fine catch to remove the dangerous de Grandhomme, and when skipper Grant Elliott was stumped off spinner Callum Parkinson's second ball, the Bears' last vestige of hope disappeared.
The Foxes' perfect day ended with Parkinson rifling through the lower order for a T20 career-best four for 20.