A stunning onslaught from captain Leus Du Plooy lifted Derbyshire Falcons to a thrilling six-wicket Vitality Blast win over Birmingham Bears at Edgbaston.
After the Bears piled up 203 for seven, Du Plooy smashed an unbeaten 66 from 25 balls to see his side to 207 for four with three balls to spare.
Sam Hain’s unbeaten 79 not out (36 balls) in the Bears innings contained some breathtaking hitting but was trumped by Du Plooy’s masterclass.
After openers Luis Reece (57, 38 balls) and Haider Ali (48, 34) added 96 in ten overs to set the perfect foundation for the big chase, Du Plooy built a memorable victory on it with an exhilarating display of hitting which brought him five sixes and four fours.
England all-rounder Chris Woakes was socked for 51 in his four overs as the Falcons side completed a quickfire double over the Bears and handed them their third successive defeat.
The first half of the Bears innings did not go to their plan after they chose to bat. Rob Yates made a perky 21 but leg-spinner Matty McKiernan (three for 39) bowled potential big-hitters Moeen Ali and Glenn Maxwell through indeterminate shots before they could inflict any damage and also castled Alex Davies for a sketchy 26 (25 balls).
Hain batted beautifully but needed support and found it from Dan Mousley (26, 17 balls) and, after Mousley was bowled through a lap by Zak Chappell, from Woakes. The England star transformed the innings with 23 from 11 balls in a dazzling stand of 48 in 18 balls with Hain.
Woakes was yorked by Zaman Khan but Hain was at his most destructive in the closing overs, thumping 36 from his last eight balls faced.
The Falcons faced a testing target but, after riding their luck early on, Reece and Haider Ali played sweetly to raise 50 from 33 balls. They set down the perfect platform before being parted in scruffy fashion when Haider Ali charged and missed at Danny Briggs. Davies missed the stumping at the first attempt but, with the batter down the track, had time to complete it second time round.
Moeen Ali, playing his penultimate game for the Bears before he departs on Ashes duty, applied a brake with an astute spell which brought the wicket of Reece, bowled through a slog sweep. As the required rate escalated, and Wayne Madsen suffered a rare failure when he holed out to Mousley, the pressure increased on the Falcons.
Du Plooy went to the crease with that pressure at its height. He needed to hit brilliantly from his first ball – and did so to take his side to a victory which tightens the North Group table right up.
Vitality Blast 2023: Be Bold, Be Derbyshire
In 2023, every Derbyshire Falcons home T20 will be played on a Friday night, weekend or Bank Holiday, meaning it’s never been easier to follow the Falcons in the Vitality Blast.
2022 saw a Club-record number of T20 wins, coupled with the Best Domestic Spectator Experience to make the Falcons Vitality Blast campaign one of the best ever, and this year’s promises to be even bigger, with an enhanced food and drink range and added emphasis on accessibility.
Tickets are selling fast, with the clash with Yorkshire Vikings at Queen’s Park and the East Midlands Derby vs Notts Outlaws gaining high interest from supporters, so don’t delay if you want to experience Mickey Arthur’s Falcons live this summer!