Notts Outlaws strengthened their lead at the top of Yorkshire Bank 40 group A with a 6-wicket victory over Northants Steelbacks at Trent Bridge.

In pursuit of a victory target of 206, the Outlaws eased to victory with 7.2 overs remaining, with Alex Hales top-scoring with 75.

The opener faced 71 balls, hitting 8 fours and 2 sixes, to secure Notts’ eighth win in nine matches in the competition.

"There’s a lot of cricket left this season and I’m hoping to contribute in both the county championship and this competition.” Alex Hales

Earlier, Northants scored 205 for nine, having elected to bat first, with Alex Wakeley making 59 from 52 deliveries, with 4 boundaries and 2 sixes. For the home side, Jake Ball recorded figures of 3 for 33, with Ajmal Shahzad claiming three for 40.

Hales, though, took the man of the match award and was understandably delighted to be amongst the runs. “I needed it,” he said. “I’ve not scored as many runs in this competition as I would have wanted this season. It was also important for us as a team to bounce back from Thursday’s defeat.”

After going through a dry run of form, the opener feels he’s on the way back to his best.

“I was happy that the t20 came around at a good time for me personally but there’s a lot of cricket left this season and I’m hoping to contribute in both the county championship and this competition.”

He admits that he’s still got unfinished business to address. “The wickets are looking flat and I’m hoping for a couple of three-figure scores before the season is over.

The Notts side showed a couple of changes from that beaten in the t20 quarter final, with Steven Mullaney and Shahzad back in for Graeme White and Ian Butler.

Northants’ openers David Willey and Steven Crook added 38 for the first wicket before Notts struck in the eighth over.

Kyle Coetzer (12) hit Jake Ball straight to Samit Patel in the covers to check their progress, after Willey had lifted both Shahzad and Gurney over the ropes for sixes.

Apart from Wakeley, six other batsmen reached double figures without getting to 30. Willey (29) twice cleared the ropes inside the first seven overs before becoming the first of Shahzad’s victims, well-taken by David Hussey on the long on boundary.

Cameron White helped Wakeley add 59 for the fourth wicket but used up 52 deliveries in doing so before prodding one of Mullaney’s off cutters straight to Patel in the covers.

The batting power-play proved to be particularly disastrous for the visitors with Shahzad removing both Steven Crook and Matt Spriegel in a double-wicket maiden, before Wakeley lofted Ball to Mullaney as three wickets fell for six runs in just ten deliveries.

Notts were gifted some early runs as Willey’s opening over leaked five wides, four of them in successive deliveries. Michael Lumb then caressed Mohammed Azharullah away for three boundaries in the next, all square of the wicket on the off side.

The pair added 64 together, with Lumb hitting 7 boundaries in his 36 but his departure and the subsequent run out of James Taylor briefly brought the visitors back into contention.

Taylor, who went into the match with a tournament average of 114 this season, made only five after trying for a chancy single to mid on and being run out by a direct hit from David Willey.

Patel made 37, in a stand of 81 with Hales, as the Outlaws bounced back from the disappointment of their midweek loss in the Friends Life t20 quarter final.

Hales’ highest one-day score of the summer was ended in unconventional circumstances, as he drove Coetzer’s first ball of the summer straight into the hands of Wakeley at extra cover.

It was only Coetzer’s third wicket in 100 one-day outings.

There were no further alarms as both Hussey (23 not out) and Riki Wessels (17 not out) cleared the ropes in the surge for the finishing line.

Notts are next in action on Tuesday when they face Worcestershire at Trent Bridge.