Durham Jets crashed to defeat as Varun Chopra inspired Birmingham to a six-wicket victory at Edgbaston with five balls to spare last night.
Chopra scored 51 from 50 balls as his side reached the target of 147 for the loss of four wickets in the NatWest T20 blast match, with Jonathon Webb and Shoaib Malik both contributing with 28 apiece.
Durham posted 146 for seven from their 20 overs after being put in to bat by home captain Chopra.
John Hastings recorded the highest score of the visitors’ innings with 36 after coming in at number eight, with the top order faltering and struggling to gain any momentum after being two down for 17 runs in the third over when openers Mark Stoneman and Phil Mustard were both out for six.
Stoneman was the first to depart on the last ball of the opening over when he was run out by Shoaib Malik, with Mustard heading back to the pavilion when he was caught by Chris Wright off the bowling of Boyd Rankin (two wickets for 27 runs).
Calum MacLeod hung around for 26 balls for his knock of 27 before falling to Jeetan Patel (two for 23) before Paul Collingwood (11) and Scott Borthwick (25) were dismissed in successive balls, the first run out by the bowler Rankin, who then had the latter caught by Chopra.
Ben Stokes was out first ball, bowled by Patel, before Hastings came to the crease to add some vital late runs with Gordon Muchall (15 not out), before Gareth Breese chipped in with nine from five deliveries at the death.
Birmingham’s reply stuttered slightly with the loss of William Porterfield for 16 with the score on 23, but Chopra and Webb moved it on to 80 before the latter was caught by Borthwick off the bowling of Collingwood.
Malik and Chopra then built a solid partnership to set up victory, with Laurie Evans (21no) steering the Bears over the line in the final over.
Elsewhere, Kevin Pietersen failed to heed Ravi Bopara’s warning as his return to English cricket yielded five runs and Surrey were subjected to a five-wicket NatWest T20 Blast defeat by Essex.
All eyes were on Pietersen at the Kia Oval for his first outing on home soil since his acrimonious parting of the ways with the national side, but the fireworks never started.
He was teased by former England team-mate Bopara on Twitter earlier in the day, with the all-rounder telling him “don’t let me get you out”.
That was just what happened, though, as Pietersen tried to put Bopara over the long-on rope but only found the hands of Ryan ten Doeschate for five.
His poor knock came amid a Surrey total of 151 for six, underpinned largely by Jason Roy’s 57 and Gary Wilson’s 45.
Essex made comfortable work of the chase. Earlier in the match, Pietersen had failed to shine when placed at centre stage.
He walked out to the middle to loud cheers – his seasonal debut having been delayed because of a finger injury suffered playing for Delhi – but was soon walking back to a different kind of noise.
He nudged his way along to five before trying to go big to Bopara. Ten Doeschate took a great catch on the fly.
Alex Hales set up Nottinghamshire for victory over Derbyshire with 63 from 32 balls in their NatWest T20 Blast match at Derby on Friday.
Hales’ quick-fire innings helped his side reach 165 for five and claim victory by five wickets with 19 balls remaining.
Ian Cockbain smashed 84 off 51 balls and Graeme McCarter finished with five wickets as Gloucestershire edged Sussex by four runs, the hosts falling just short of their victory target in a thrilling finale at Hove.
Having found themselves 111 for six in the 13th over in pursuit of 190, Sussex launched a spirited fightback but it all unravelled in the final over.