Birmingham Bears triump in T20 Blast final

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Birmingham Bears beat Lancashire Lightning by 4 runs in another thrilling T20 final at Edgbaston to cap a thrilling twelfth season of the competition.

Both sides went into the match looking to capture their first T20 title, hoping to follow Northamptonshire's first title triumph last year.

Flintoff returns

Lancashire named Andrew Flintoff in the starting line-up, as Kabir Ali was absent injured, whilst Birmingham named an unchanged side from their 16-run semi-final victory over Surrey earlier in the day.

Birmingham Bears won the toss and decided to bat first but it was ex-England all rounder Flintoff who was immediately in the game as he removed current England star Ian Bell with his very first ball, giving Lancashire a fantastic start to the match.

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Birmingham Bears recovered from this early setback, largely thanks to a fantastic cameo and man-of-the-match performance from Laurie Evans, who hit 53 from just 30 balls. He took a liking to Lancashire's bowlers who had little answer to his brute force.

England's Jimmy Anderson surprisingly suffered the most during the innings, taking no wickets for 52 runs from his four overs. Evans was supported well by semi-final hero Will Porterfield (31), captain Varuna Chopra (30), Rikki Clarke (27) and Chris Woakes (22*) as the Bears posted a very healthy 181-5.

Tough chase

To win Lancashire would have needed to chase down the highest score to win a T20 final.

They began well with Tom Smith and Ashwell Prince adding 41 for the first wicket before Smith was dismissed by England seamer Chris Woakes. The impressive Boyd Rankin (2-21) accounted for danger-man Prince (30), at which point Lancashire were falling behind the required rate and were in need of something special.

Rankin then dismissed Khawaja (16) which brought in Lancashire's main threat, Jos Buttler. With a required rate of over 10 it was not going to be easy for the Red Rose county.

Buttler was unable to produce the heroics required and Lancashire, despite the efforts of Karl Brown with 55 from just 28 deliveries, continued to lose wickets at regular intervals.

Tight bowliing

Oliver Hannon-Dalby bowled well towards the end of the match to finish with figures of 3-31, including the key wicket of Jos Buttler, and Chris Woakes (2-34) produced a fantastic final over to see the home side to victory in a tense ending to the game.

Even the comeback of Flintoff, who looked like his former self, hitting 20 from just eight balls, could not alter the outcome of the match, nor end Lancashire's long wait for a one-day final victory.

Once again T20 Finals Day has delivered on all accounts, from the exciting cricket to the entertainment that the mascot race provided. Even though the day was interrupted from time to time by the weather it did not detract from the drama of the day.

Roll on next year's competition.

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England cricket
Ian Bell

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