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Notts Outlaws cemented their position at the top of the Friends Life t20 North Group with a 10 run victory over the Warwickshire Bears in front of a crowd of 6775 at Trent Bridge.

Alex Hales’ 67 underpinned the Outlaws total of 173-6 and although Chris Woakes made a quick-fire 44 not out towards the end of the reply, his side were always well behind the required rate.

The Man of the Match Award went to Hales, who admitted that he was relieved to be back amongst the runs. 

“For the first four games I’ve seen most of the other batsmen get amongst the runs and it was nice to be able to contribute myself this time.”

“It’s taking a little time to get my timing right”, he said, having missed a month of the season with a broken jaw. 

“For the first four games I’ve seen most of the other batsmen get amongst the runs and it was nice to be able to contribute myself this time.”

Director of cricket Mick Newell emphasised that his side still have room for improvement ahead of Thursday’s floodlit fixture against Durham Dynamos at Trent Bridge (7pm start). 

“We’ve begun this tournament well but there were a few mistakes in the field today, which we can cut out.

“There’s an awful long way to go yet and we’ve a big week ahead. Somewhere along the way we’re bound to lose a game or two but if we can get through the three matches this week, Durham away and then at home, and then Northants at home next Saturday, without losing, then we’ll be in a strong position to qualify from the group.”

After skipper David Hussey had won the toss, an unchanged Outlaws side batted first for the fifth match in a row.

There was drama from the very first ball, which Hales pushed to mid-off. Fielder Jim Troughton’s direct hit on the stumps was referred to the third umpire but Hales was just home.

Riki Wessels welcomed Woakes’ return to the game in emphatic fashion. Out for a month with a shin injury, the England ODI player’s first ball was despatched over midwicket for six.

Woakes did exact swift revenge though, getting the same batsman at wide mid-off for just 7.

Adam Voges joined Hales to apply early pressure upon the visiting attack, bringing the fifty up from just 30 deliveries and speeding to 66-1 by the end of the power-play overs. The fifty stand had materialised in just 24 balls.

The home side reached 96-2 at the halfway stage, having lost Voges in the tenth over for 39. The Australian had again batted beautifully before falling to a slower ball from Steffan Piolet.

Hales pushed Jeetan Patel to midwicket to bring up his 50 from 28 balls, becoming the fifth different Outlaw to reach the landmark in the competition this season.

Hussey, playing in his 150th t20 match, the day after becoming the leading scorer in the history of the format, got off the mark first ball but only made six before chipping Piolet to long on.

Successive boundaries from Hales took the home side to 123-3 at the end of the fourteenth over but he played around one from Maddy, which may have kept a little low as it nipped back on to his leg stump. His 67 had come from just 40 balls faced and was his first half century at Trent Bridge in this competition since the same day a year ago when he made 69 against Derbyshire Falcons.

Chris Read (6) also fell to Maddy, pulling straight into the hands of Woakes at deep midwicket.

Samit Patel’s first boundary came in the 17th over and he may have been denied another when a drilled straight drive rebounded off his new partner, Steven Mullaney.

He did have a change of fortune in the next over however, as Woakes dropped him on 19. The ball may have swirled a little in the breeze as it arrived to the fielder at deep midwicket but it should have been held.

Maddy’s frustrations were then intensified as the rest of the over cost him 17 runs – Patel hitting fours through cover and to fine leg, either side of a mighty six which cleared the rope in front of the Radcliffe Road Stand.

Mullaney (8) fell to Carter in the final over of the innings but the over still cost eight runs as Notts ended on 173-6, with Patel unbeaten on 37 having passed 1500 runs in the competition when he’d reached 32.

Darren Pattinson opened the bowling for Notts, after collecting a five-wicket haul against the same side at Edgbaston in midweek. Immediately he had success, with Varun Chopra edging the first ball of the innings through to Read.

Neil Carter got off the mark by clearing Scott Elstone at deep square leg. The initial over ended with a Luke Fletcher misfield, which allowed a boundary.

Fletcher made amends though by picking up two quick wickets. He sent William Porterfield’s off stump tumbling backwards with a quick yorker and then trapped Carter lbw.

The early setbacks meant that Warwickshire could do no better then reach 50-3 by the time the fielding restrictions were lifted at the end of the sixth over. 

Maddy and Troughton began to rebuild the Bears’ innings but the former took a huge gamble by pushing to Hussey and running. He would have been out by a good six yards had the throw not missed by a whisker.

The reprieve wasn’t a lengthy one. On 28, Maddy hit Mullaney straight back to the bowler, who held a sharp return catch low to his left.  At the halfway point the total had advanced to 76-4 – twenty runs short of what Notts had achieved by the same stage.  

An impressive diving stop from Voges on the long off boundary saved a couple of runs and the same player then saw the back of Troughton (24) by holding a catch in the deep off Patel, whose four overs didn’t concede a single boundary (4-0-18-1).

Rikki Clarke made 17 before miscuing against Mullaney and Andy Carter scooped up the chance at short third man.

An improbable 62 runs were needed from the last four overs but it remained a possibility when Woakes hit Carter for during the 17th over.

David Hussey responded by bringing himself on at the Pavilion End and Ambrose (11) obliged by slicing the ball to Fletcher.

Woakes kept his side interested by pulling Fletcher into the New Stand to bring up the 150 but 21 were still needed from the final over and Pattinson kept his nerve to seal the win and complete the double over Warwickshire.

The victory maintains the Outlaws’ unbeaten start to the campaign and lifts them 4 points clear of second-placed Lancashire Lightning.