|NatWest T20 Blast|
|Dates: 7 July – 2 September|
|Coverage: Ball-by-ball local radio commentary on every match online, tablets, mobiles and BBC Sport app. In-play highlights and live text commentary of selected games on the BBC Sport website. Selected commentaries on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra.|
Birmingham Bears moved to the top of the T20 Blast North Group with a thrilling two-run win against Northants at the County Ground.
Colin de Grandhomme (37) hit three fours and three sixes as the Bears finished their innings on 172-9.
Adam Rossington (43) and Alex Wakely (52) bolstered Northants’ chase but it was not enough as they came up short.
Elsewhere, Kent beat Hampshire by five runs at the Rose Bowl in another final-over thriller.
De Grandhomme keeps the Bears on track
Just two days after a tremendous 73 from 43 balls against Lancashire on his Bears debut, Adam Hose contributed 19 to the visitors’ tally.
Captain Ian Bell described Hose’s performance on Sunday as the best debut he has seen by a Warwickshire player, but there was to be no repeat as he was caught by Wakely off Nathan Buck.
Rob Keogh and Buck took two wickets each to keep Birmingham pegged back but de Grandhomme’s fine 16-ball knock kept them on track.
Richard Gleeson then starred with the ball for the hosts, taking two superb wickets in three balls in the penultimate over of the Bears’ innings, removing Keith Barker and Alex Mellor.
A thrilling finale
Northants began their innings well as they finished the powerplay with a comfortable 65-1, but Jeetan Patel took two wickets in as many balls to put Birmingham in a better position.
First Adam Rossington was caught on the boundary by Aaron Thomason seven runs short of his half century, while Ben Duckett was bowled by Patel soon after.
The hosts recovered well, however, as they took advantage of Boyd Rankin’s poor bowling to take 14 runs off the 14th over and remain in the driving seat.
While Wakely made 52, which included four fours and two sixes, Steven Crook and Saif Zaib fell cheaply around him.
Birmingham looked to be heading for defeat when Wakely hit a six in the final over to bring up his half-century, but he was run out by Thomason off the final ball as the visitors sealed victory.
Kent reign victorious against Hampshire
Kent have been faced with several big targets in this season’s T20 Blast, including a chase of more than 200 against Surrey at The Oval and an imposing 181 total in a rain-affected match against Somerset last week.
Against Hampshire, however, they were spared a desperate chase and opener Daniel Bell-Drummond hit a useful 62 to get Kent started.
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Shahid Afridi took four wickets to limit the visitors, removing Sam Northeast and Sam Billings midway through Kent’s innings, before claiming the scalps of James Neesham and Bell-Drummond as the visitors finished on 159-6.
Tom Alsop hit an unbeaten 43 as Hampshire enjoyed a more consistent innings, but they fell five runs short.
After their narrow defeat by Birmingham, can Northants retain the T20 Blast title?