Vitality Blast: Paul Stirling hits 46-ball century for Birmingham Bears

Paul Stirling
Paul Stirling hit nine fours and 10 sixes in his 119

Opener Paul Stirling struck 119, including 34 from one over, as Birmingham Bears opened their T20 Blast campaign with a 125-run thumping of Northamptonshire Steelbacks.

Stirling's 51-ball career-best innings, his third T20 hundred, included 10 sixes and nine fours as the Bears made 207-3 in a rain-reduced 16 overs.

Northants, needing 13 runs an over, tried to attack from the outset but were bowled out for only 81 to fall to their heaviest T20 defeat, while the Bears picked up their biggest margin of victory.

Elsewhere, Stevie Eskinazi struck 87 in 37 balls as Middlesex made their record T20 Blast total of 229-9 in victory against Gloucestershire.

Paul Coughlin starred with bat and ball in Durham's comfortable win over Leicestershire Foxes and Glamorgan beat Sussex Sharks by seven wickets at Hove.

Stirling and Eskinazi go big

Stirling, on his Bears debut, was the star of the night as he made a 46-ball century at Edgbaston.

He came one hit away from six sixes in an over but James Sales, the 19-year-old medium-pacer making his T20 debut, was spared as the last ball was sliced through slip for four.

Sam Hain added 66 in 32 balls as he shared a third-wicket stand of 170 with Stirling in just 11.4 overs.

Spinner Danny Briggs then took 3-21 from his four overs as Northants subsided miserably, even considering the extremely difficult chase they faced.

Stevie Eskinazi
Captain Stevie Eskinazi got Middlesex off to a flying start

At Radlett, captain Eskinazi made his third-highest T20 score to help Middlesex go past the 227-4 they made against Somerset at Taunton in 2019.

It was the fourth-highest T20 total conceded by Gloucestershire, for whom Benny Howell's 46 from 20 balls in their reply came too late, as they finished on 199-9.

At Grace Road, Coughlin top-scored for Durham with 42 in 30 balls as the visitors posted 184-8.

Australian Ashton Turner, Durham's captain, struck 32 from 18 deliveries with three sixes.

Coughlin then removed the Leicestershire top three and finished with 4-15 from three overs as Leicestershire folded for 130, bowled out with 13 balls to spare.

Pakistan's Mohammad Rizwan made an unbeaten 81 off 60 balls for Sussex, last season's semi-finalists, but it was a lone hand in their 150-6.

Michael Hogan took 3-26 to limit Glamorgan's target and Sam Northeast led the visitors home.

He made 63 not out off 52 balls as victory was achieved with seven balls to spare.

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