Birmingham Bears 162 for 5 (Benjamin 68*) beat Durham 158 for 9 (Coughlin 40, Brookes 3-35) by five wickets
Chris Benjamin’s violent half-century blazed Birmingham Bears to a five-wicket Vitality Blast over Durham Dynamos at Edgbaston.
Chasing 159 to win, the Bears were wobbling at 36 for 4 before Benjamin seized control, hitting 68 not out from 36 balls with six fours, four sixes and dominating a fifth-wicket stand of 85 in 42 balls with Adam Hose.
Durham chose to bat but 158 looked under par on a good batting pitch. Only Paul Coughlin – with 40 off 33 balls – passed 21 while Henry Brookes took 3 for 38, Danny Briggs 2 for 23 and Craig Miles 2 for 29.
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Brydon Carse then struck twice early on to put the Bears under pressure before Benjamin decided the game with a display of power-hitting which peaked with an assault of 37 from nine balls as the Bears sealed victory with 19 balls to spare.
Liam Trevaskis, skippering Durham for the first time with Ashton Turner sidelined by a dislocated shoulder, won the toss and watched his side get off to a flier. Cameos from Michael Jones and Graham Clark lifted their side to 44 for 1 from 25 balls but the next 27 balls brought 27 for the loss of four wickets as the Bears bit back.
Carlos Brathwaite took a wicket with his first ball and Miles struck with his fourth and fifth when Jones chipped to mid-on and Ned Eckerseley was lbw. When David Bedingham was trapped in front by Briggs, Durham were 71 for 5 but Coughlin and Scott Borthwick rebuilt with a stand of 43 in 36 balls and Ben Raine biffed a late 16 from 8 to provide late impetus.
Durham then took that impetus into the field to reduce the Bears to 36 for 4. Carse was the catalyst, delivering two excellent overs for just five runs while taking two wickets – Jacob Bethell, bowled by a yorker, and Alex Davies, caught at point.
Jonathan Bushnell, fielding as 12th man and still to play a first-team game for Durham, added a memorable first contribution at senior level with a stunning catch, taken over his shoulder sprinting back from point, to remove Rob Yates, who had replaced the injured Sam Hain.
After a brief recce, Benjamin and Hose then climbed into spectacular counter-attack. Benjamin raced to a 22-ball half-century and the pair took their stands in successive matches to a combined 183 from 84 balls before Hose lifted Trevaskis to long-off.
The partnership had broken the back of the chase. Bears captain Brathwaite went in with 38 needed from 45 balls, only 26 of which were required for the Bears to maintain their 100 per cent start to the Blast.