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Bell shines as Bears outclass Notts in T20 Blast opener

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Notts Outlaws began their T20 Blast title defence with an eight-wicket loss to Birmingham Bears in a repeat of the 2017 final.

Having limited Notts to 155-7 with a disciplined bowling display, Ian Bell’s classy 82 not out saw the Bears home.

Elsewhere, Sussex beat Essex and Leicestershire spectacularly chased down a target of 219 to beat Northants.

The Foxes required 112 to win from the last seven overs but Colin Ackermann hit 66 not out in a thrilling finale.

Northants’ cause was not helped by the award of six penalty runs for a slow over-rate in the penultimate over, before Ackermann’s fourth six sealed a four-wicket victory with two balls remaining.

Earlier, Ben Duckett was one of three batsmen to register half-centuries in Northants’ 218-3, but he was caught at long on for 96 in the final over of the innings and therefore denied the first hundred of this season’s tournament.

Sussex’s victory at Chelmsford was less eventful, with David Wiese’s 5-24 ending Essex’s hopes of chasing 182 to win.

Catch of the tournament?

On the opening night? Quite possibly!

Birmingham Bears’ excellent effort in the field at Trent Bridge was exemplified by a wonderful acrobatic catch by captain Grant Elliott to dismiss Tom Moores.

Grant Elliott takes a stunning catch for Birmingham Bears

Left-hander Moores miscued high into the air towards cover and former New Zealand all-rounder Elliott dived full length to cling on to the opportunity.

Elliott also took the key wicket of Dan Christian, reducing Notts to 68-5, and it took entertaining cameos from Luke Fletcher (27) and Billy Root (33 not out) for them to post a competitive total.

But the Bears made light work of their victory target, with Bell and Sam Hain (45 not out) adding 121 in a T20 county-record third-wicket stand to see them to a comprehensive victory with 16 balls to spare.

“Ian Bell is in fantastic nick,” coach Jim Troughton told BBC WM. “He deserves to be too, as he worked incredibly hard over the winter.

“He manoeuvred the ball about beautifully and Sam came in and continued his good form on the back of some good innings for England Lions.”


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BBC Sport – Cricket