Notts Outlaws 124-5 (Hales 44, Christian 33*) beat Leicestershire Foxes 123-8 (Ball 2-17, Wasim 2-24) by five wickets.
Dan Christian hit the winning single with five overs to spare as Notts Outlaws maintained their dominant T20 form in a game they controlled from gun to tape.
The win enhances the Outlaws’ standing in the north group, which they lead, level on points with Lancashire, with clear daylight between the top two and the chasing pack.
Only the weather has beaten Notts in the competition so far with two rain-offs holding back the traveling group leaders at Headingley and Aigburth.
Back at Trent Bridge, the stage was set. Friday night lights and an audience of internet streamers that far out-numbered the white empty seats of home.
Winning the toss and batting, the Foxes failed to fire in a pedestrian powerplay given brief impetus by Irish import Gareth Delany. His gargantuan straight six was followed by a finely swept four before Steven Mullaney dived to dismiss the Leicestershire opener with a well taken catch at square leg in an incident-packed Samit Patel over.
Mullaney didn’t flinch in sticking a rapid return catch, matched in sharpness by his army-issue haircut, to see off Colin Ackermann. George Rhodes will not seek a replay of his dismissal – bails whipped him off with him lumbering through no man’s land to leave Leicestershire with little hope as daylight faded.
Whilst Leicestershire failed to hit their straps, Dan Christian will be heartened by his bowling stocks, bolstered by the return of Imad Wasim whose dart-like left-arm spin saw him preferred to Matt Carter in the Notts eleven. Imad returned two wickets for 24 runs having held a dolly and watched on as Chris Nash juggled one in a condensed but entertaining one-man show that culminated in a full-length dive and a one-handed snaffle.
Harry Dearden had been first to fall, lofting Jake Ball’s slower ball to Joe Clarke in the deep to set the tone for what followed. Ball’s miserly economy rate and a controlled contribution from Dan Christian, who went for a shade over five an over, brought the bowlers to the fore.
Notts began their reply in stuttering fashion with Chris Nash bowled in the first over. Joe Clarke was given an extra life, dropped by Delany in the deep early-on, but from that point on, Notts knuckled down with an in-form Alex Hales (44) marshalling his side to 62-2 only to hole out on the final ball of the powerplay. The pair shared a 29-ball fifty partnership to break the back of the chase before Ben Duckett strode to the middle.
Clarke was granted another free pass when Tom Taylor put him down. The reprieve, however, was short-lived as Taylor was handed the ball and found Clarke’s edge soon after.
Notts were 73 for 3 after eight overs and while there was no need for destructive batting, there were calls for control and composure as Tom Moores came and went to unite Duckett with Dan Christian. Duckett was clean bowled for 14 leaving Christian and Mullaney to cruise home.
Attention now turns to the Bob Willis trophy for Durham’s visit from Sunday before a return to Vitality Blast action next Friday when Lancashire bring their unbeaten record to Trent Bridge.
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