Notts Outlaws maintained their unbeaten start to the Royal London One Day Cup campaign and went to the top of Group B after a thrilling 3-wicket victory over Glamorgan at the SWALEC Stadium, Cardiff.
The Outlaws looked dead and buried at 137-7, in pursuit of 228 but an unbroken stand of 93 in 12.5 overs, between Steven Mullaney and Ajmal Shahzad, saw the visitors to an unexpected win with 9 balls to spare.
Mullaney finished on 63 not out (46 balls 4x4 3x6) and Shahazad was unbeaten on 33 (39 balls 3x4).
The home side had earlier made 227 for 8 after being put in, with Jacques Rudolph scoring 101. James Franklin was the pick of the Outlaws attack, taking 3-32, but Mullaney (2-26) and Shahzad (2-39) also impressed with the ball.
All in all then, a great night for Steven Mullaney. “We had no right to win that,” he admitted afterwards. “Ajmal and I enjoy each other’s company so we just chilled out, chatted about all sorts of things and got into a position where we could win.” Laughing, he then said. “Then we had to take it a little bit more seriously!”
“We’re unbeaten in eleven matches in white ball cricket, there’s a lot of belief in our dressing room and that’s great going into Sunday’s important match. We’re all just enjoying each other’s company at the moment.”
Notts made one change from the side that tied against Somerset on Tuesday, with Shahzad returning in place of Jake Ball.
For the first time in this year’s competition James Taylor won the toss and he elected to field first but it proved to be tough going for the first 8 overs as the openers put 40 on.
Rudolph began confidently for the home side, hitting boundaries off both Luke Fletcher and Harry Gurney, although he also had a bit of good fortune as a streaky Chinese cut narrowly missed the stumps off the left-armer.
His partner Jim Allenby (13) was less at ease and paid the price for an indifferent start as he edged to Riki Wessels at first slip, in Shahzad’s first over.
Rudolph sped to his 50 (57 balls 8x4) but soon lost his next partner. James Franklin, who didn’t bowl in the Somerset match also struck upon his introduction into the attack as Will Bragg (13) hit to Shahzad at mid off.
Murray Goodwin (6), so often the scourge of Notts in his Sussex days, was seen off early, by a lovely delivery from Franklin which clipped the off bail.
Chris Cooke (5) went to the same bowler, as a short-pitched ball was looped high to Wessels at midwicket.
David Lloyd (3) edged Mullaney behind, as the Outlaws continued to make important inroads.
The batting powerplay began with Glamorgan on 142-5 but they lost 2 wickets in adding only 27 runs.
The 39th over saw Rudolph reach his hundred but also lose his wicket. A wonderful sliding stop on the boundary by Fletcher restricted him to 2 to take him to 99 before the South African clipped another couple of his legs to bring up his ton (130 balls 10x4).
Barely had the applause died down before Shahzad speared the next ball into the base of the batsman’s stumps to end his fine innings on 101.
A suicidal mix-up between Graham Wagg and Mark Wallace saw the end of the Glamorgan skipper. Wallace (21) backed up too far but his partner wasn’t interested in a single and Taylor’s lob back to bowler Gurney set up an easy run out.
Wagg (8) then fell to a piece of brilliance in the field. He heaved Mullaney away towards the deep midwicket fence for what seemed to be the first maximum of the day.
As the ball neared the boundary Shahzad leapt high to his left and pulled off a wonderful take, twisting as he landed to make sure he fell clear of the ropes – a stunning piece of athleticism.
Notts might have thought they had restricted Glamorgan to a sub-200 score but Andrew Salter had other ideas. He plundered four consecutive boundaries off Gurney to finish on 36 not out, adding an unbroken 47 with Dean Cosker (11 not out).
The reply began poorly, with Alex Hales (0) edging the sixth ball of the opening over, bowled by Michael Hogan, to Rudolph at second slip.
Taylor (0) lasted until the 7th over, facing 16 balls but also went without scoring as he nicked Hogan through to Wallace.
A terrific over ended with a third wicket for the bowler as he brought one back to castle Samit Patel (0) to leave Notts on 11-3 after 7 overs.
Michael Lumb (26) was fourth to go, trapped lbw, deep in his crease by Lloyd.
Salter’s first delivery produced a wicket, with Franklin (11) given out caught behind – although any sort of deflection was hard to detect and the batsman seemed unhappy at the decision.
Wessels puled the first 6 of the match and reached his 50 (60 balls 4x4 1x6). He and Read added 48 for the seventh wicket before slightly more controversy returned.
Read pushed a ball from Cosker to deepish mid on and set off for a run – Wessels collided with the bowler, Cosker, who was within his rights to move across the pitch to try and stop the ball.
Wessels’ de-tour meant he was late setting off and the mid on fielder, Bragg, was able to fire in a return to the ‘keeper’s end to find Wessels (65) short of his ground.
The batsman was given out – then told to wait on the field whilst the umpires conferred. After discussion, the decision stood.
Read (21) had the onus of responsibility thrust upon him but he was the unfortunate victim of another sensational piece of athleticism as Salter leapt to take a one-handed catch off Allenby.
Mullaney and Shahzad began their stand at 137-7 in the 36th over and visibly grew in confidence with each passing over.
Cooke put down a difficult chance in the deep off Shahzad but it was a rare blip in an otherwise textbook partnership.
Mullaney’s 50 (39 balls 3x4 2x6) was only his third in one-day cricket and when he heaved Hogan for the winning 6 towards the River End it took him to his highest score in the format.
The stand of 93 broke by some distance the previous highest Notts 8th wicket partnership against Glamorgan, one of 39 between Greg Smith and Samit Patel in 2006.
Notts have now taken 5 points from 3 matches in this competition and now turn their attention to the NatWest T20 Blast quarter-final against Hampshire at Trent Bridge on Sunday.