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Birmingham Bears 137 (Hain 35, Heldreich 4-27) beat Northamptonshire 107 for 9 (Mousley 3-14, Moeen 3-16) by 30 runs
Birmingham Bears returned to winning ways in the Vitality Blast with a 30-run victory over Northamptonshire Steelbacks in a low-scoring contest on a turning track at Edgbaston.
Spinners dominated as the Bears, having chosen to bat, were bowled out for 137 in 18.5 overs after left-arm wristspinner Freddie Heldreich continued his excellent Blast campaign with a career-best 4 for 27. Heldreich took a wicket in each of his four overs as only Sam Hain (35 from 31 balls) and Alex Davies (32 from 18) passed 15 for the home side.
The Steelbacks reply was then even more emphatically smothered - 107 for 9 from 20 overs - by the four-pronged home spin attack. Dan Mousley took 3 for 14 and Moeen Ali 3 for 16 to help his side to their first win in four attempts under his leadership before he now leaves to join England's squad ahead of next week's Ashes opener.
Davies supplied the Bears with a punchy and, it was to prove, priceless start despite quickly losing two partners. Rob Yates lifted Tom Taylor to deep square leg and Moeen's unproductive batting return to the Bears was completed when he skied David Willey to mid-off. The England player departs for Test duty on the back of 48 runs in four Blast knocks.
Davies perished in pursuit of his third six when Saif Zaib took a well-judged catch on the rope in front of the Hollies Stand off Heldreich. That was the spinner's fourth ball - he struck another big blow with his tenth which Glenn Maxwell, having hit the previous ball into the Hollies, chipped tamely to extra cover.
Heldreich's 17th delivery inflicted further damage when Mousley missed an attempted pull and fell lbw and when his 19th ousted Chris Benjamin, to another well-judged catch by Zaib at deep mid-wicket, the Bears were 93 for 6. As so often, the burden of responsibility fell on Hain and when he was bowled, making room to cut Zaib, a moderate total was assured.
The Steelbacks found the going even tougher against the twirlers, notably Mousley who took two crucial wickets for eight in his first two overs. The 21-year-old bowled Chris Lynn and Josh Cobb either side of taking a fine catch in the deep to remove the dangerous Emilio Gay off Maxwell.
Moeen then struck twice as Willey edged behind and Lewis McManus heaved to deep midwicket where the effervescent and ubiquitous Mousley took the catch. After ten overs, the Steelbacks had stuttered to 50 for 5 with 88 needed from the last ten.
Scoring at that rate in such conditions was out of the question. Zaib and Taylor nurdled 29 from 30 balls but Mousley returned to the attack to have Taylor caught at extra cover and Danny Briggs hit James Sales' middle stump to collect his 249th T20 wicket.
A quest for 63 from the last five overs was hopeless. Zaib (25 from 29 balls) was bowled behind his legs sweeping at Moeen and the Steelbacks subsided swiftly under the shimmering mosaic of pinks, oranges and ochres in the dazzling iridescence of a Birmingham sunset.
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