Umar Akmal keeps Leicestershire flying
Leicestershire 164 for 3 (Akmal 52*) beat Birmingham 160 for 5 (Ambrose 66) by seven wickets
Umar Akmal scored an unbeaten half-century as Leicestershire put a brake on Birmingham's NatWest T20 Blast hot streak with a comfortable seven-wicket win at Edgbaston.
Birmingham were hunting their fifth successive win in the North Group and posted a solid total of 160 for 5 thanks mainly to Tim Ambrose's third T20 half-century, a well-judged unbeaten 66 from 54 balls with seven fours and a six. But Leicestershire bounced back from the previous night's defeat at Derby to reach 164 for three with nine balls to spare.
Mark Cosgrove laid the platform with a blistering 44 from 23 balls and then Niall O'Brien and Umar Akmal saw them home with an unbroken stand of 93 in 70 balls.
After Birmingham chose to bat, Leicestershire struck two big blows early. Varun Chopra lifted Olly Freckingham to cover and Ian Bell's blistering form in this season's tournament (128 from 89 balls in two innings) was ended by a brilliant catch by Tom Wells. Bell was looking dangerous again on 19 from 13 balls and hit Clint McKay's first two balls for four but then drove the next to mid-off where Wells flung himself to his right to make the catch.
That was Leicestershire's last success for a while as William Porterfield and Ambrose built the innings' only partnership of substance. They added 80 from 58 balls before the former fell to another fine catch by Wells, this time at long-off.
Laurie Evans scratched around for 13 and could drop out next week when Brendon McCullum makes his debut. But Ambrose kept working the ball around skilfully, though young left-arm spinner Jamie Sykes distinguished himself with four tight overs for just 23.
Leicestershire got off to a flier, reaching 50 in the fourth as Cosgrove fed voraciously on some overpitched bowling. The Australian raced to 44 from with seven fours, one six before falling lbw to Jeetan Patel's fifth delivery.
That was 71 for 3 and Birmingham sensed an opportunity to start a collapse but O'Brien and Akmal played it perfectly. Under no pressure to go for big shots they milked the bowling as the Foxes won at a canter, Akmal notching a half-century on his farewell appearance as stand-in overseas player for Kiwi star Grant Elliott who will return next week.