Notts Outlaws blast way into T20 quarter-finals

Alex Hales
Alex Hales

Notts Outlaws captain Dan Christian praised Alex Hales and wicketkeeper Tom Moores as they helped the defending champions advance to the quarter-finals of the Vitality Blast at the expense of Yorkshire.

The pair saw the run-chase home as the Outlaws chased down 164 to win by eight wickets with an over to spare in the winner-takes-all final North Group clash.

Yorkshire posted 163 for six after electing to bat on what proved to be a two-paced pitch, with captain David Willey top-scoring with 51 off 40 balls and Adam Lyth and Kane Williamson hitting 44 apiece.

But Harry Gurney was superb with one for 16 from four overs as the Outlaws impressed with the ball and in the field.

Hales then led a chase that never looked like faltering with his first Blast 50 of 2018 in his fifth innings.

He finished 71 not out, off 56 balls, and shared half-century stands for the second and third wickets with Jake Libby and Moores.

Christian said: “We’ve been pretty inconsistent through the start of the year, but our last few games have been very good.

“It’s fantastic to have Alex Hales back and anchoring that innings, and Tom Moores doing what he’s been doing all year.

“Alex and Tom played it perfectly. The rate never got higher than about 8.2 runs per over. When they needed to get a boundary, they found one. It was a solid innings.

“Tom’s been fantastic all year. He’s really hit his straps the last three or four games and is starting to work out his game. He’s always been a fantastic striker of the ball, but he’s getting better at batting — finding the gaps. When he needs to go, he can clear the boundary.

“We thought they were a touch under. Dave’s (Willey) wicket was huge for us, particularly targeting the short side. We were thinking it was a 180 or 190 wicket. Once it was lower than that, we could be a bit more circumspect in the chase.

“Harry (Gurney) has been great for us since I’ve been at the club, so the last four years. He’s been fantastic. He did it on the big stage at Finals Day last year and got 4-17 in the final. He’s been great again this year. To close out the last over and only go for one off the bat and five in all was a fantastic effort.”

Both sides had gone into the clash level on 14 points, with Yorkshire in fourth place courtesy of a superior net run-rate.

Notts, who played three frontline spinners to Yorkshire’s none, now face Somerset at Taunton in the quarter-finals next week.

Willey posted his second 50 in two nights for Yorkshire after his 79 in the win against former county Northamptonshire.

In that game, he shared 150 for the second wicket with Lyth, but they fell eight short of making it back-to-back century partnerships when the latter top-edged a sweep off Steven Mullaney behind (96 for two in the 13th).

Willey then followed in the next over from the Kirkstall Lane End when he pulled Luke Fletcher to deep mid-wicket as the score slipped to 106 for three.

Yorkshire had been stifled in the first three overs, with debutant off-spinner Matthew Carter removing Tom Kohler-Cadmore with the second ball of the match in 12 for one after three.

Willey and Lyth, who both hit big leg-side sixes, then got Yorkshire moving as they reached 85 for one after 11, before being tied down again in overs 13, 14 and 15 as Notts claimed Lyth and Willey for the addition of only 12 runs.

Williamson hit three fours and a six off Samit Patel’s left-arm spin in the 16th over, which yielded 20 runs, but they stumbled again late on from 130 for three, despite the New Zealand captain’s classy knock.

Gurney bowled Jordan Thompson to claim his only wicket, but he was the standout with his variations and yorkers in an innings that saw only one wide conceded.

Willey forced Riki Wessels to chop on in the third over of the reply, but Hales and Libby took the score to 58 for one after six overs of power play.

They both played in a controlled manner and shared 73 in 8.2 overs for the second wicket before Libby (30) was stumped off Lyth’s part-time off-spin, leaving the score at 98 for two in the 12th.

Hales reached 50 off 36 balls shortly afterwards before in-form wicketkeeper batsman Moores helped him see the game home in swashbuckling fashion with an unbeaten 43 off 24 balls.

They shared an unbroken 71 in 7.4 overs, ensuring this will almost certainly be Liam Plunkett’s last game for Yorkshire.