Notts Outlaws’ quest for quarter-final qualification suffered a seaside setback as Lancashire Lightning emerged victorious by six wickets at Blackpool.
The Outlaws’ total of 179/7 – given early impetus by Alex Hales, anchored in the middle overs by Samit Patel and crowned by Dan Christian – was ultimately overhauled in the 19th over, Steven Croft top-scoring with an unbeaten 61.
It was a Father’s Day fixture that was a voyage into the unknown for all parties.
While the off-field experience of a Sunday afternoon in Blackpool contained pleasingly few surprises – with the ice-cream van, iconic tower and bracing Fylde Coast breeze all present and correct – on the field, such certainties were conspicuous by their absence.
Never before had Lancashire hosted a T20 Blast fixture in this corner of their county, but with a pair of powerhouse batting line-ups looking to take advantage of a small outfield, heavy run-scoring seemed inevitable.
Outlaws openers Joe Clarke and Alex Hales certainly began with the required intent.
A lofted straight drive from Clarke from the final ball of the first over could only be described as Hales-esque, such was its majesty.
Hales himself made quite the impact in the third over – a six over deep midwicket followed by a four flayed behind point, before the third delivery of the over was pulled out of the ground and in the general direction of the Sunday strollers on the promenade.
Hales would perish from the next delivery, with Clarke following five balls later, leaving Ben Duckett and Samit Patel to rebuild.
Theirs was a partnership with fewer fireworks – an impudent ramp shot from Duckett aside, derived straight from the Joe Root textbook – but breezy accumulation was the order of the day, 46 runs added before Duckett was unlucky to be caught behind after the ball rebounded off wicketkeeper Vilas.
Tom Hartley and Luke Wells were largely successful in containing Patel and his new partner Tom Moores, before the evergreen all-rounder began to throw the shackles off with back-to-back boundaries off Tim David.
But as Patel neared his fifty, a miscommunication saw Moores run out after attempting to complete a quickfire two.
Patel would depart three balls later, with Mullaney contributing five before being adjudged lbw to Wells, but trademark death-over defiance from captain Dan Christian hauled the Outlaws to 179/7.
It was a target which Luke Fletcher set about defending with gusto – and despite finding himself on the receiving end of a pair of leg-side hoicks from Keaton Jennings, the homegrown seamer had the last laugh as the Lancashire opener miscued one into the hands of Steven Mullaney.
It was Dane Paterson who did the damage four balls, and no runs, later – a misfiring Josh Bohannon finding the hands of Christian.
At 44/2, the Outlaws had justifiable cause for celebration – but now Steven Croft was in the middle, and in his manor.
Blackpool born and bred, Croft has the proverbial knowledge when it comes to Stanley Park – and he looked completely at home as he peppered the fence in the company of Dane Vilas.
Vilas initially accelerated in a more understated manner, but a six which bounced off a portaloo roof signalled a change of pace.
The skipper made 55 from 29 balls before holing out off Paterson. His replacement Tim David's stay was soon ended by a smart Steven Mullaney catch, but the damage was done.
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