Notts Outlaws defeated Northants Steelbacks by 23 runs to maintain their unbeaten Friends Life t20 home record.
The victory takes the Outlaws on to 13 points from eight matches, equalling the number of points they had achieved by the same stage in 2010.
Batting first, Notts ran up a total of 183-6 with Adam Voges top-scoring on 49. Despite a slight rain delay of around ten minutes, the match ran its full course, with the Steelbacks ending on 160-6 with Alex Wakeley unbeaten on 61.
Voges, the country’s leading scorer in this season’s competition with 315 runs, collected the man of the match award and admitted to being pleased with his form.
“I feel I’m timing the ball nicely at the moment,” he said.
“I’m trying to mix it up a little bit by keeping the scoreboard moving and then being aggressive when I have to.”
Director of Cricket Mick Newell reflected that his side had been made to work hard for the victory. “The pitch was a little slower and we didn’t get the kind of start we wanted from the first six overs but we ended up with a total that we thought would be competitive on there.”
Newell emphasised that his side are in a good position but are still a long way from being sure of qualifying.
“We’re nowhere near yet and still have to be positive and win matches when we have to chase a total,” he said.
“Leicestershire Foxes keep winning and we play them at home next Friday, so it will be very important that we can come out on top in that one.”
With Alex Hales being passed fit the Outlaws selected an unchanged line-up for the sixth match in a row and again batted first after David Hussey had won the toss.
Trent Bridge was staging its 58th Twenty20 match, a new world record, putting it one ahead of Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium as the world’s leading domestic and international venue at the shortest format of the game – and again a healthy attendance (5458) turned up to watch the Outlaws maintain their lead at the top of the North Group.
Alex Hales and Riki Wessels had again given the home innings a positive start by adding 46 in five overs but both were then clean-bowled in David Willey’s first over. Voges and Hussey shared a half century stand before the home captain (33) was given out lbw to the spin of South African Johan Botha.
Samit Patel (7) became Willey’s third victim before Voges pulled Andrew Hall straight into the hands of former Notts man Bilal Shafayat, fielding on the boundary at deep midwicket.
Steven Mullaney made a quickfire 16 and some late hitting and hard running from Chris Read and Scott Elstone gave the innings a final flourish.
Chasing 184 for their first ever victory against the Outlaws, the visitors lost Rob Newton in the second over – bowled by a slower delivery from Darren Pattinson that jagged back and uprooted his off stump.
The wicket was Pattinson’s 50th in the competition’s history and, matching Voges’ efforts with the bat, lifted him to the head of this season’s competition wicket-takers.
His 16th wicket of the campaign came late in the innings but by then the visitors had struggled against an ever-climbing run-rate. Niall O’Brien made 26 before mistiming a slow loopy bouncer from Andy Carter straight to Mullaney.
Shafayat, on his first appearance for the Steelbacks after recently joining them for a second spell, made an impressive 37 but at too slow a rate as all five front-line bowlers returned economical figures.
Alex Wakeley’s late hitting came after a ten minute rain delay and took him to a fifty from just 29 balls but the contest was effectively over by then.
There was late concern for Andy Carter. After bowling five balls of the final over he obviously felt a slight niggle, spoke with skipper Hussey and then made his way from the field. Alex Hales was asked to bowl the final delivery but without having had a chance to get loose, he bowled a wide before then sending down an accurate delivery to complete the contest.
Notts return to LV= County Championship action on Monday but return to the Friends Life t20 at home to Leicestershire Foxes on Friday (6.10pm start).