By Callum Dent & Rob Barnett
Will Porterfield’s accelerating 81 not out from 47 deliveries lifted Birmingham Bears to an imposing 194 for four, which proved 16 too many for Surrey despite Jason Roy’s scintillating 25-ball 58.
Porterfield, dropping down to number three to accommodate Ian Bell’s first domestic T20 appearance for four years, created a platform that earned the Edgbaston hosts a place in this evening’s NatWest T20 Blast final.
The way Roy launched into the chase suggested the Bears’ imposing score may not have been enough but, after the opener went in the eighth over, Surrey’s challenge fell away to the pleasure of many home fans in a sold-out crowd.
Responding to Gary Wilson’s decision to field first, Bell struck Jade Dernbach and Matt Dunn for straight sixes before playing on to the latter for a 17-ball 38 in the last over of a powerplay that yielded 57.
Gareth Batty took a stunning, right-handed caught and bowled to oust Varun Chopra for 23 before Porterfield and Rikki Clarke played sensibly given Birmingham’s swift start.
Porterfield’s first 20 runs occupied 25 deliveries but two consecutive sixes off Dunn changed the tempo of his knock.
Batty could not hold a sharp chance at short third man to oust Clarke for 25 but the all-rounder, immediately after lifting six over extra-cover, holed out to long-on for 35 off Robin Peterson.
Peterson then wasted a simple chance at midwicket to snare Porterfield for 41 immediately before Evans attempted to ‘Dilscoop’ Azhar Mahmood only to be bowled round his legs.
The number three batsman cut loose in the closing overs against Azhar and Dernbach. The last two together cost 37, giving the latter figures of 0-56.
Roy gave Surrey a dream start to their reply, hitting every ball of the third over, bowled by Clarke, to the boundary, including a six over cover, to give him 39 of Surrey’s first 42 runs.
His ninth Blast half-century arrived from just 19 balls and Steven Davies began to find his range as the powerplay realised 78.
Roy fell on the slog-sweep, top-edging Jeetan Patel to deep backward square-leg.
Porterfield dropped Kevin Pietersen over the long-on rope but Ateeq Javid soon had the dangerous batsman caught and bowled with his first ball.
In the spinner’s next over Wilson, an Edgbaston cult hero after last year’s Finals Day, fell when he chipped a catch into the covers.
Worse followed for Surrey when Davies was run out for 39, attempting a second run after a direct-hit.
Birmingham gloveman Tim Ambrose needed medical attention after dropping a tough caught-behind chance to dismiss Kevin O’Brien.
However, O’Brien was soon run out and next ball Azhar was bowled leg stump by Chris Woakes.
Although Peterson mustered some sweet late boundaries, he was bowled by Woakes from the game’s penultimate delivery.
Surrey skipper Gary Wilson said: “It’s difficult, we have just lost a semi. It was a shame (Jason) Roy didn’t get to play in the final. He has been the best player in the competition. It’s hard to take for Jason as it is for all of us. There is no better player in England on this form. I will be surprised if he doesn’t get a call-up soon.”
Birmingham Bears batsman Will Porterfield said: “Bell and Chopra laid the platform, set it up well. It was a very good wicket. We have had the best of it there, 190 was just above par for our game. It's right up there with one of my most pleasing one-day or T20 knocks for Warwickshire.”
On the wait for the final, he added: “I’m quite fortunate. I might pop home for a couple of hours. A few of the lads have family here and there are places for us to go. We are fortunate we are playing in Birmingham. I won’t be going near a golf course!”
2pm - END OF INNINGS! BIRMINGHAM BEARS WIN BY 16 RUNS! Sur 178/7; Ansari 8, Batty 1 - The crowd goes wild as Birmingham Bears secure their place in tonight's final, overcoming an early blaze from Roy. Porterfield stole the shows for the hosts earlier with a brutal unbeaten 81.
1.57pm - WICKET! Peterson b Woakes 21; Sur 177/7 - Peterson hits Woakes for two fours, but the bowler responds by dismantling the South African's furniture.
1.55pm - Peterson takes a maximum from the final ball of the penultimate over. Surrey need 31 off six balls. Over to you Woakes.
1.53pm - Robin Peterson gives Surrey a little hope by smashing Hannon-Dalby over Bell at long-off for six, leaving 39 needed from 10 balls.
Surrey 149-6 after 18 overs..
— Surrey Cricket (@surreycricket) August 23, 2014
1.47pm - WICKET! Azhar b Woakes 16; Sur 147/6 - With rain falling, Woakes' yorker beats the defences of Azhar. The Bears look to have this in the bag now.
1.46pm - WICKET! O'Brien run out (Porterfield) 11; Sur 147/5 - O'Brien is run out by a Porterfield direct-hit from the long-on rope.
1.40pm - Ambrose is all patched up and continuing on. O'Brien is trying his best to lift Surrey, hitting Oliver Hannon-Dalby past a diving Ian Bell at wide long-on for four. Azhar Mahmood, struggling to make his ground, then unintentionally gets in the way of a Woakes throw and survives what looked like a certain run out.
1.35pm - Tim Ambrose requires treatment on a finger injury sustained when missing a stumping against the advancing Kevin O'Brien. The wicketkeeper looks in some pain.
1.28pm - WICKET! Davies run out (Clarke) 39; Sur 119/3 - Davies goes after trying to sneak a second from a direct-hit that crashed into the stumps at the other end. The dismissal is confirmed by the third umpire. A huge blow for Surrey.
1.25pm - Where is your money now? Surrey have managed just 13 runs from the last four overs to leave them requiring 77 from six.
1.22pm - WICKET! Wilson c Chopra b Javid 4; Sur 116/3 - The introduction of Javid has been a masterstroke from Bears skipper Varun Chopra, who holds on to a leading edge from Wilson at cover.
1.14pm - WICKET! Pietersen c&b Javid 13; Sur 108/2 - Ateeq Javid strikes with his first ball, holding on to a sharp caught-and-bowled to dismiss Pietersen. Gary Wilson strides out to the crease to cheers from the Edgbaston faithful following the entertainment he provided on this ground in last season's showpiece. Can the captain see his side home?
1.12pm - Rankin concedes just 26 from his four-over spell, but Surrey are well placed on 108 for one after 11.
1.08pm - CHANCE! - Rankin has a huge lbw appeal turned down against Pietersen. Will Porterfield then lets one through his hands at long-on to hand the right-hander a six off Patel. Tough chance. Lancashire Lightning duo James Anderson and Andrew Flintoff get a standing ovation as they make their way round the boundary to the pavilion.
Surrey 92-1 after 8 overs..Davies 30*, Pietersen 1*
— Surrey Cricket (@surreycricket) August 23, 2014
1pm - WICKET! Roy c Woakes b Patel 58; Sur 89/1 - Roy top-edges an attempted sweep to Chris Woakes on the rope. An outstanding innings ends. Here comes Kevin Pietersen.
12.54pm - Jeetan Patel, a key man for the Bears in this season's competition, concedes two off-side fours from as many balls to Davies before Roy whips the New Zealander through the covers.
12.50pm - FIFTY! Roy (19b 9x4 2x6) - Roy is driving Surrey into a fine position here, moving to fifty off just 19 balls with two fours off Boyd Rankin's first set of six. This is Roy's ninth half-century in the NatWest T20 Blast this term.
Jason Roy talks us through his approach to batting in the sprint format
12.47pm - Surrey's 50 arrives in the fourth over when Steven Davies drives Chris Woakes for successive fours. Roy slashes the same bowler just over the man at cover for another boundary. This looks a brilliant surface.
12.41pm - Roy is continuing his stunning form in this competition, smashing a six and a quintet of fours in Clarke's second over that costs 26. The right-hander has 39 of his side's 42 without loss after three. Game on!
12.34pm - Surrey's chase is up and running when Jason Roy blasts Rikki Clarke over midwicket for a maximum in the opening over.
Birmingham Bears Innings
Will Porterfield shares his thoughts about batting in a T20
12.20pm - END OF INNINGS! Bir 194/4; Porterfield 81, Woakes 8 - Porterfield's 81 off just 47 balls takes Birmingham to a commanding total after they were asked to make first use. Dernbach, opting to bowl full-tosses and full deliveries, leaks 19 from the final set of six and finishes with figures of 0-56 off four overs.
12.15pm - Porterfield looks in fine fettle and is taking the Bears to a formidable score. He blasts two fours and a huge maximum off an Azhar over that costs 18. England all-rounder Chris Woakes is alongside him now with the Bears 175 for four after 19 overs.
12.09pm - FIFTY! Porterfield (37b 2x4 3x6) - Porterfield clubs a Dernbach full-toss over midwicket for six and then takes a single to bring up a fine half-century. The move down the order to accommodate Bell has not unsettled him.
12.05pm - WICKET! Evans b Azhar 2; Bir 146/4 - Peterson fails to hold on to a simple chance at midwicket off Porterfield. But ex-Surrey man Laurie Evans goes next ball, bowled after shuffling too far across his stumps attempting a sweep.
12pm - WICKET! Clarke c O'Brien b Peterson 35; Bir 139/3 - A huge wicket for Surrey! Clarke, playing against his former employers, lifts Peterson over extra-cover for a sublime six before clubbing the spinner to Kevin O'Brien at long-on.
11.57am - CHANCE! - Porterfield is punishing full-length deliveries from Dunn. The Irishman follows two consecutive maximums, over midwicket and extra-cover, with a flick for four to take his stand with Clarke past 50. The latter then reverse-sweeps the paceman towards Batty, who cannot hold on diving to his left at short fine-leg. That would have been some take.
Excellent, crafty fare from Gareth Batty. Plenty of variation and crucial dot balls for @surreycricket . Just three runs. BIR 111-2 (14)
— NatWest T20 Blast (@NatWestT20Blast) August 23, 2014
11.50am - Rikki Clarke rocks back and lifts Batty over midwicket for six before turning Dunn off his legs for four. The Bears, now past 100, are building a solid platform for a late onslaught here.
11.43am - Porterfield collects the Bears' first boundary in 30 balls, reverse-sweeping Robin Peterson for four. Birmingham are 89 for two after 11 overs.
11.35am - WICKET! Chopra c&b Batty 23; Bir 69/2 - Surrey skipper Gary Wilson turns to spin after the powerplay is completed and Gareth Batty strikes in his first over by claiming a stunning one-handed catch high to his right from a strong Chopra drive.
11.25am - WICKET! Bell b Dunn 38; Bir 57/1 - Bell takes the Bears past 50 by driving Dunn for six and then guiding him past short third-man for four next ball. But the right-hander advances down the pitch and jags a yorker back onto his stumps. A superb 17-ball innings.
11.17am - Chopra greets Matt Dunn, replacing Dernbach, into the attack by opening his body and crashing him over extra-cover. Dernbach swaps ends and Bell takes the attack to his England limited-overs team-mate, smashing him back over his head for six before collecting consecutive boundaries.
11.11am - Bell advances down the pitch and lobs Azhar over mid-off for a couple. The England batsman, opening ahead of Will Porterfield, then pulls a four that just beats Kevin Pietersen to the rope.
11.07am - After Ian Bell drives his first ball past mid-on for three, Chopra flicks Jade Dernbach off his legs for his second boundary. The paceman concedes 11 from his first set of six, leaving the Bears 16 without loss.
11.02am - Varun Chopra crashes Azhar Mahmood's first delivery, a wide loosener, through the covers for four. The bowler responds by beating the outside edge on a couple of occasions.
Here we go then pic.twitter.com/xrUsBpd6ug
— Surrey Cricket (@surreycricket) August 23, 2014
10.58am - Here we go then! Bell and Chopra are opening for the Bears in front of a sell-out crowd, with Azhar to bowl the first over.
10.50am - Surrey suffered a shock defeat to Northants Steelbacks in last year’s showpiece in Birmingham. Wilson is hopeful of going one better today, though, especially with the likes of Kevin Pietersen and Jason Roy within their ranks.
7 - Since the start of last season @CricketingBears have won seven and lost two of their nine completed Twenty20 matches at Edgbaston. Home.
— OptaJim (@OptaJim) August 23, 2014
Birmingham Bears: Varun Chopra (capt), Ian Bell, Will Porterfield, Tim Ambrose (wkt), Rikki Clarke, Laurie Evans, Chris Woakes, Ateeq Javid, Jeetan Patel, Boyd Rankin, Oliver Hannon-Dalby.
Surrey: Jason Roy, Steven Davies, Kevin Pietersen, Gary Wilson (capt & wkt), Kevin O'Brien, Azhar Mahmood, Robin Peterson, Zafar Ansari, Gareth Batty, Jade Dernbach, Matthew Dunn.
10.30am - TOSS! - Surrey skipper Gary Wilson wins the toss and inserts Birmingham Bears.
— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) August 23, 2014
10.20am - Despite playing in front of their home fans, all-rounder Rikki Clarke, formerly of Surrey, believes the Bears are underdogs.
10.15am - The first last-four clash involves the same teams that competed in the inaugural T20 final back in 2003, when Surrey prevailed by nine wickets at Trent Bridge. The Bears, whose director of cricket Dougie Brown was part of that side 11 years ago, will be looking for a reverse in fortunes on home soil today.
10am - Good morning and welcome to NatWest T20 Blast Finals Day at Edgbaston, starting with hosts Birmingham Bears taking on Surrey.
— Warwickshire CCC (@CricketingBears) August 23, 2014