Ian Bell hits 82 as Birmingham Bears beat last year’s champions in Blast opener

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Ian Bell’s unbeaten 82 ensured Birmingham Bears exacted revenge for their 2017 Vitality Blast final loss with an eight-wicket success over reigning champions Notts Outlaws.

Bell was not involved last September when the Outlaws secured a 22-run victory over the Bears at Edgbaston, but the 36-year-old former England batsman showed his enduring class by easing his team across the line alongside Sam Hain.

Hain, who struck a century for England Lions against India A earlier this week, made 45 not out and put on 121 with Bell as Birmingham reached their target of 156 with 16 balls remaining.

Notts lost Chris Nash without a run on the board as 18-year-old Henry Brookes started their innings with a wicket maiden, though the Outlaws’ other opener Riki Wessels would top score with 41 of his team’s 155 for seven.

Ed Pollock smashed 13 off five deliveries at the start of the reply before Bell and Hain guided them to victory.

Ben Duckett’s 96 was not enough to earn Northamptonshire victory over Leicestershire as the Foxes chased down 219 with two balls to spare to claim a  dramatic four-wicket triumph.

Colin Ackerman celebrates Leicestershire's victory (David Davies/PA)
Colin Ackermann celebrates Leicestershire’s victory (David Davies/PA)

However, Colin Ackermann’s unbeaten 66, which included four sixes, would ensure the visitors got off to a winning start.

In the other game of the night, Sussex’s David Wiese took five for 24 as Essex were bowled out for 145 in a 36-run loss.

Half-centuries from Laurie Evans and Michael Burgess helped Sussex to 181 for six and Essex came nowhere near chasing that down, despite Varun Chopra’s 64.

Jofra Archer claimed three for 24 and Rashid Khan two for 25 to support Wiese, with Essex going from 143 for five to 145 all out as they fell way behind the run rate required.

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