Notts Outlaws were left to settle for a point in the East Midlands derby after a dramatic conclusion at the Incora County Ground ended in the Green and Golds’ third tie of the Vitality Blast campaign.
Derbyshire appeared to be cantering to their target of 137 at 57 for none after the powerplay, but an outstanding penultimate over from Luke Fletcher, and miserly death bowling from leg-spinner Calvin Harrison left Matt Critchely requiring five off the final ball for the win.
Alas, the Falcons captain's straight drive evaded the clutches of Sol Budinger at long-on to secure a share of the spoils in front of a rowdy reduced capacity crowd.
There was cloud cover over Derby as Notts arrived on the back of the short trip down the A52, and, on a used pitch, home captain Critchley won the toss and asked the Outlaws to bat first.
That failed to dissuade Joe Clarke, who continued where he left off against Worcestershire by smashing five boundaries off Logan Van Beek’s opening over, but Conor McKerr responded well for the hosts, uprooting Alex Hales’ leg stump first ball.
It didn’t dampen Clarke’s approach, though, and the 26-year-old looked in fine fettle for the visitors as he added another three fours to his collection in the powerplay.
At the other end Budinger, making his fourth appearance for the Outlaws in the Blast, gave the home spectators a taste of his shot-making potential by sending a Fynn Hudson Prentice delivery sailing back over his head.
The pair’s 30 run partnership ended, however, when Clarke, who had faced just 16 balls for his 36, clipped a full Van Beek delivery to Tom Wood at deep backward square leg, and it sparked a run of regular wickets for the home side.
Ben Duckett was the next to go in the sixth over, finding Luis Reece at mid-on off Hudson-Prentice’s bowling, and Budinger departed for 21 six balls later, top-edging George Scrimshaw to Leus du Plooy at point to leave Notts 67 for four at the end of the seventh.
Critchley trapped Samit Patel in front of the stumps in the tenth over, much to the delight of the partisan crowd, and it was left to Tom Moores and Steven Mullaney to take the sting out of the home tail.
The Green and Golds position looked increasingly perilous two overs later, though, when Moores turned a McKiernan full toss to Tom Wood at fine-leg, and Harrison was bowled first ball to leave Notts 86 for seven.
McKiernan had his third 12 balls later when Fletcher looked to relieve some of the mounting pressure by clearing the infield, but the experienced campaigner could only slice to Van Beek.
It fell on the shoulders of the Outlaws skipper to extend the scoring with Matt Carter for company, although it was the latter who looked every bit the batsman when he cracked Scrimshaw through the covers for four.
Mullaney added six more pulling Van Beek over fine leg to take the score to 110, but fell trying to hit down the ground the next ball, McKiernan turning catcher to give the Dutch seamer his second
With 22 deliveries left, Jake Ball and Carter mixed accumulation with lusty blows to add 27 for the final wicket on a pitch offering useful pace and bounce.
Luis Reece did the damage in the early stages of the powerplay for the Falcons as they set about positively in pursuit of the 138 runs required for victory.
The 30-year-old scored 56 off 26 at Trent Bridge in the reverse Blast fixture seven days prior, and looked in good form as he contributed 44 to Derbyshire’s total of 57 after six overs.
He brought up his half-century in impressive fashion in the seventh over, latching onto a back-of-a-length Steven Mullaney delivery for his ninth boundary, but the in-batsman was dismissed for 51 from 30 deliveries an over later, Patel clipping the left-hander’s off stump as he attempted to reverse sweep.
Mullaney turned the screw for the Outlaws two balls later, when Harry Came punched to Ball at long on, and the mood at the Incora County Ground shifted to one of tension.
It only increased when, in the 10th over, Leus du Plooy fell victim to the reverse sweep, picking out Budinger at short third man.
Jake Ball then proceeded to continue the fightback and showed his international pedigree by bouncing out du Plooy, who helplessly spliced skywards to short third man where Moores took an excellent catch diving forwards.
Critchley and Brooke Guest were the men tasked with steadying the Derbyshire ship, and they went about the task diligently, the latter releasing the pressure in the 15th over with a sizeable straight six to carry the home side to 107 for four.
However, the pressure was immediately reapplied when Patel’s quicker delivery was edged by Guest, Moores juggling before taking a smart catch.
All-rounder Hudson-Prentice joined his captain as the end neared, and consecutive boundaries in the 17th over inched the home side closer to victory, but the tale took yet another twist when the right-hander hit Harrison to Hales at long on, and McKiernan was caught behind first ball.
With 10 needed off the final two overs, and the hosts seven down, Critchley took Fletcher’s opening delivery for a single, before the seamer struck with back-to-back wickets to see the end of Van Beek, caught by Mullaney, and McKerr, caught behind.
One more from the penultimate over meant the Falcons needed eight to win from the last set of six, and three runs from five Harrison deliveries left the hosts needing five to win off the last ball.
Critchely hit hard to long-on, and, in the most dramatic of circumstances, the ball escaped the clutches of Budinger on the rope to hand the sides a point each.
Notts return to the summit of the North Group on net run rate, and look to continue their six game unbeaten run against Lancashire on Saturday.