Notts Outlaws’ attempts to kickstart their Vitality Blast group-stage campaign were thwarted by Leicestershire Foxes at Trent Bridge, falling to a 47-run defeat.
Alex Hales hit the game’s highest score, but his 55 was not enough to carry the hosts over the line as Naveen ul-Haq secured four scalps.
Leicestershire’s total was bolstered by late hitting from Ben Mike (29), after Lewis Hill anchored the early stages of the innings with 39.
The Outlaws had pegged their opponents back with early wickets – and it was Matthew Carter who got the ball rolling, with Nick Welch miscuing expansive strokes to the off-spinner’s first two deliveries before attempting another long-levered swipe that returned from orbit to find the hands of Dan Christian.
Thereafter, it was over to Samit Patel, who began the fixture on 298 T20 wickets.
First Harry Swindells swept into the hands of Calvin Harrison. 299.
The same combination accounted for Aaron Lilley once the Powerplay had concluded – not the finest delivery to have left the left-armer’s hand, but you earn your own luck after two decades in the game.
Steven Mullaney’s stint in Outlaws gold has been lengthy, too, and his four overs contained their share of drama.
A fine first over from Steven Mullaney yielded an lbw shout, a Colin Ackermann drive clipped agonisingly wide of Dan Christian, and only five runs conceded.
Mullaney broke through in his next set of six, moving smartly to his left to pouch Lewis Hill off his own bowling.
The club captain’s third became a cat-and-mouse affair, as Dan Christian moved into a straight mid-on to counter Wiaan Mulder’s strength down the ground.
The plan almost came to pass, as a despairing dive from Christian was mere inches from removing Mulder – but with Mulder scampering a single, Mullaney was able to castle a misfiring Colin Ackermann.
And Mullaney’s final over bore fruit too, Rishi Patel’s attempt at an ill-judged single bringing about his downfall to a stooping, underarming Christian.
Six wickets became seven in the next over, Mulder’s favoured scoring shot bringing about his departure as a straight drive settled into the hands of Ben Duckett, before Fletcher’s slower-ball bouncer saw off Rehan Ahmed.
And after some trademark Ben Mike belligerence at the start of the 19th over, miscommunication between Mike and Naveen ul-Haq left the Afghanistan international in no man’s land.
Mike’s late-innings efforts hauled the visitors to 170 from their 20 overs, the all-rounder dismissed for 29 from his final delivery.
And his efforts were crucial in the field as the Foxes frustrated Alex Hales and Joe Clarke in the opening overs, before Hales manufactured a swipe to the point boundary off a Callum Parkinson yorker.
Parkinson saw off Clarke shortly afterwards, and prescient field placement from the Foxes kept Hales and Ben Duckett on a leash – although the only fielder who could stop the opener’s long-levered heave off Mike was to be found in the Radcliffe Road Middle Tier.
Duckett, Tom Moores, Steven Mullaney and Dan Christian would come and go after brief cameos, and while the Outlaws had Hales, they had hope.
The right-hander broke new statistical ground as he moved within sight of 50, becoming the first man to hit 2,500 T20 runs at this white-ball batter’s paradise.
But shortly after chalking up his half-century with a towering six into the Pavilion, Hales’ attempts to force the tempo saw him hole out off Mike.
As the run-rate became ever-more forbidding, Patel, Calvin Harrison, Luke Fletcher and Dane Paterson took their leave, with the spoils departing alongside the Foxes down the A46.
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