Chris Lynn and Saif Zaib help fire Northamptonshire Steelbacks to 211-6 but total not enough as Birmingham Bears win by six wickets; watch England in action in the third Test against New Zealand, live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10am, Thursday
Wednesday 22 June 2022 22:31, UK
Adam Hose and Chris Benjamin smacked half-centuries as Birmingham Bears tightened up the top of the Vitality Blast North Group with victory in a high-scoring encounter against Northamptonshire Steelbacks.
Chasing 212, Hose played the anchor role with 63 off 44 balls, while Benjamin was the finisher with an enthralling 58 from 31 deliveries, after Alex Davies had thrashed 42 from 18.
Earlier, Chris Lynn (59) continued his ridiculous form to return to the top of the Blast scoring charts, now with 443 runs, and Saif Zaib was outstanding in his 74 - but it proved short in the six-wicket defeat.
Northamptonshire missed the opportunity to move to the top of the group with the top four teams all now separated by a single point - with Derbyshire, the Steelbacks and the Bears on 14, one behind Lancashire.
The Steelbacks won the toss and without a second thought batted first on a belting quick pitch paired with a lightning outfield and bright sunshine - with 200 always a bare minimum.
Lynn took his run tally at Wantage Road to 361, with an average of 120, but he initially took his time to get going.
A swatted six over square, which never seemingly descended, got him going before a glorious on-drive was followed up by charging Carlos Brathwaite to clear the midwicket boundary.
Ben Curran had played a series of thumping straight shots before he played Brathwaite onto his stumps to end the 72-run opening stand.
That wicket somewhat slowed Lynn, but he brought up his fourth fifty in five innings on the ground in 37 deliveries.
The Australian was dropped on 52 and had added only a further seven runs before slicing to short third man.
Zaib simply continued where he had left off the previous evening, when he managed a career-best 92.
He earned a life on 12 - a second drop in a dismal fielding display - and immediately put it out of his mind with a four-four-six combo which ended with a full-toss disappearing over point.
Zaib, whose third T20 half-century came up in 24 balls, demolished Craig Miles when he took him for 20, with 28 runs coming in the eight balls before he fell to a spectacular long-on catch.
The final three overs were all action as 39 runs were plundered and three wickets taken as the Steelbacks reached 211 for six - the eighth highest score in their history, but just their fourth largest on this ground in 2022.
That breathlessness only continued as Paul Stirling smashed 21 off Tom Taylor's first over - which included sixes over long-on and off his legs - before the Irishman nicked off the first ball of the following over.
Ben Sanderson struck again in his second over, which only went for one run, when Rob Yates was beaten and broke the bail, before the pressure paved the way for Taylor to pin Sam Hain in front.
Davies and Hose showcased some beautiful shot-play, especially on the cut and drive in a 69-run partnership that threatened to sway the game firmly in the visitors' grasp.
But after striking back-to-back sixes off Freddie Heldreich, Davies got greedy and was bowled trying to slog-sweep a third, this time damaging the stump.
Just as the run rates were converging, Benjamin got going with a trio of sweeps, two going the distance and the other all along the floor, while Hose brought up his fifty with a six on the pull.
Benjamin's fifty came in 28 balls - and included four maximums - as the pair put on 100 to get the Bears over the line with seven balls to spare, completing their highest successful chase.
Watch the third LV= Insurance Test between England and New Zealand, from Headingley, live on Sky Sports Cricket and Sky Sports Main Event from 10am on Thursday.