Sam Hain powered Birmingham Bears to an impressive six wicket victory over Notts Outlaws on the opening evening of this season’s NatWest T20 Blast competition.
Set to score 180, the Bears reached their target with two balls to spare, in front of a Trent Bridge crowd of 10,423.
Hain, playing the first T20 match of his career, had opened the innings and finished on a highly impressive 92 not out. The 20 year old scored his runs from only 54 balls, hitting 12 fours and two sixes.
Earlier, Notts made 179 for seven, with Riki Wessels contributing 52, having scored his runs from 41 deliveries, which included four fours and two sixes. Jeetan Patel was the pick of the Bears’ attack, taking three for 23, whilst both Oliver Hannon-Dalby and Chris Wright each claimed two wickets.
The Bears’ reply took some time to get under way, with Harry Gurney starting with a maiden and then Luke Fletcher’s opening over only cost a single. Ian Bell’s departure, for only eleven, to Brett Hutton, put the home side briefly in the ascendancy but a second wicket stand of 47 wrestled it back for the visitors.
William Porterfield fell for 26 and Laurie Evans made only 10 but Hain stood firm, playing a selection of elegant cuts and drives on his way to a 32-ball half century.
Luke Ronchi blasted 22 from only 10 balls in his first match for last season’s semi finalists and Chris Woakes remained unbeaten on 16 at the end, hitting Luke Fletcher for the six that won the match.
Wessels and Greg Smith provided the platform for the Outlaws’ total, with the pair adding 83 in just 8.3 overs after Michael Lumb and Sam Wood had both fallen in the fourth over.
Smith made 43, before hitting Jeetan Patel out to Sam Hain at deep midwicket. Wessels needed only 37 balls to get to his 50 but he was then bowled, attempting a reverse sweep.
That brought Samit Patel to the crease, to face his namesake. In Wednesday’s championship match, between the two teams, the batsman hit the former New Zealand international for seven maximums in his breathtaking innings of 124. This time Jeetan Patel exacted swift revenge, having his man caught second ball for only four.
Steven Mullaney hit 16 from only eleven deliveries but was then bowled by Oliver Hannon-Dalby, who also dismissed Dan Christian three balls later, for 34.
Christian, who lit up the recent Big Bash League with some enormous blows, carried his six-hitting form into his first match back in the Blast.
The new Outlaws captain clubbed Recordo Gordon for three enormous blows in the same over, leaving the bowler to reflect on figures of nought for 58, from his four overs.
Notts’ Riki Wessels said: “Sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say, ‘well played’ because that was a brilliant innings from Sam Hain.
“We thought 180 was a challenging target, I found it quite difficult out there to bat. It was a new wicket and the ball stuck in the wicket a touch and I thought we’d got a really good score but unfortunately the rain and the dew spiced the wicket up beautifully for batting.
“We’ve only really had one full day of white ball practice, with all the championship cricket recently, so there’s plenty of time to iron out the things we didn’t get right.”
Birmingham’s Sam Hain added: “I loved it, it was my first T20 game and I’m just happy to get the boys over the line. 180 was a tricky score to chase down but Ronchs (Luke Ronchi) came in and eased the pressure and helped get us there.
“Chops (Varun Chopra, who didn’t play) is a brilliant T20 player but I’ve known for a couple of days that I would be playing tonight and I was delighted, because I’ve been itching to play in this format and have to be delighted with how it’s gone.”