Notts Outlaws bowed out of this seasons Friends Life t20 competition when they were beaten by 6 wickets by Somerset in a thrilling contest at Trent Bridge.
In front of a noisy and passionate crowd of 12,070, Notts posted 169-5 from their 20 overs but their hearts were broken for the second year running by West Indian all-rounder Kieron Pollard.
The Trinidadian took the decisive catch at The Rose Bowl last year to seal Notts’ fate in the semi finals. This time he bludgeoned his way to an unbeaten 47 off just 25 balls to claim the Man of the Match Award and shatter the Outlaws hopes of a return to Finals Day.
Mick Newell, Notts’ director of cricket, said there was one crucial difference between the two sides. “I felt all along that they possessed more players that could hit fours and sixes in the last few overs. Basically we struggled to do that after about the twelfth or thirteenth over.
“We felt out score was competitive”, he continued. “Ideally we should have been looking for 180 as it was a good wicket but we executed our early plans well to get rid of Marcus Trescothick and that gave us a chance but Pollard again batted very well.”
Newell said that he had been proud of his side’s achievements this season. “We have won eleven out of sixteen group matches and earned a home tie in the quarter finals – which has brought some money into the club – but we are still very disappointed not to be going to Finals Day.”
The day began with Nottinghamshire defending an unbeaten home record, having batted first in all eight North Group matches played at Trent Bridge this season.
Skipper Adam Voges won the toss again, so it was no surprise that Notts continued with the same policy of trying to get the runs on the board in the first innings.
Alex Hales, fresh from his debut for the England Lions at Scarborough, opened the batting with Riki Wessels. They were immediately presented with the spin of Murali Kartik, who went for just two singles in his first over.
Wessels (6) was the first to fall, hoisting Lewis Gregory high to mid on where Peter Trego took a catch that was made more difficult by the swirling breeze.
Only 12 had come from the first three overs but then Hales hit Alfonso Thomas for consecutive boundaries in an over that doubled the Outlaws total.
By the end of the powerplay overs a score of 44-1 had been reached but the fifty was quickly brought up as Hales hit Kartik for the first maximum of the day.
In the next over he welcomed Craig Meschede into the attack by lifting him over the ropes in front of the Hound Road Stand.
Voges (14), offered steady support to the opener before lofting Meschede into the safe hands of Pollard at long on. Hales then proceeded to his fifth t20 half century of the summer (32 balls 4 x 4 2 x 6) at the start of the eleventh.
Fellow Lion Samit Patel vigorously pulled Pollard for his first boundary at the start of the 13th over and the 100 came up just six deliveries later.
On reaching 61 Hales overtook Leicestershire Foxes’ Andrew McDonald as the highest scorer in this season’s competition and he celebrated by pulling Pollard over the Fox Road Stand and out of the ground.
The start of the 17th over brought Hales’ downfall after a stand of 60 with Patel. He’d made 78 and was looking to power Gregory down the ground but a leading edge flew high to James Hildreth at backward point.
Patel (28) then followed, yorked by Thomas, who ended his comeback over by dismissing Scott Elstone (4) in similar fashion.
Chris Read (23 not out) hit Gregory for a legside six in the penultimate over and his new partner, Andre Adams (8 not out) then did likewise, this time over extra cover.
The final over brought nine runs as the Outlaws closed on 169-5.
Somerset’s skipper Marcus Trescothick ended his fielding stint hobbling slightly, after going over on his ankle. Nevertheless, he opened the batting alongside Craig Kieswetter, who had already recorded scores of 100, 72 not out, 164 and 21 in his four previous innings at Trent Bridge this season.
In the first over a direct hit from Riki Wessels was referred to the third umpire but Kieswetter had safely made his ground.
Notts didn’t have to wait long for a success and it came in spectacular fashion. Luke Fletcher bowled three dot balls to Trescothick at the start of the third – the batsman then tried to walk across his stumps and flick away – but he only succeeded in lifting it to short fine, where Adams took an athletic one-handed catch.
After a short stoppage for rain Peter Trego hit the first six of Somerset’s reply, lifting Adams over the ropes in front of the Radcliffe Road Stand. 34-1 was on the board after six overs, with the Outlaws then able to relax the fielding positions.
Trego put Steven Mullaney into the Tavern Stand and then hit two more boundaries in the same over to bring the 50 up after seven.
The much-needed breakthrough came from Samit Patel, turning one sharply past Trego’s (22) bat for Read to smartly whip off the bails.
73-2 at the halfway stage left the contest almost neck and neck but then the Outlaws struck again with another Read stumping, this time accounting for Hildreth (14) off Graeme White.
Pollard made his intentions clear by lifting the same bowler high into the Radcliffe Road Stand, with the 100th being posted in the 14th over.
Pattinson’s recall from the Pavilion End produced his 23rd wicket of the campaign, with Voges catching Kieswetter at wide mid off for 49.
With 63 runs needed from the last five, Pollard kept his side very much in contention by lifting Patel for two 6s.
Jos Buttler and Pollard reduced the target to 14 from 12 balls as they brought up their fifty stand in just 3 overs.
Neither batsman was in a forgiving mood and the end came when Buttler (34 not out) hit the first ball of the final over for the winning runs, denying his partner (47 not out) the chance of a deserved half-century.