Richard Levi blasted back into action with an explosive 43 ball 88, but it was Nottinghamshire who took the points at Trent Bridge after the rain allowed just enough time for a result in the hosts’ favour.
The Outlaws were 52-0 from 5.1 overs in reply to Levi’s inspired target of 196 when the forecast rain arrived, the hosts 12 runs ahead of the par score of 40 having snuck in enough deliverers to ensure a result by the narrowest of margins.
It could have been different had Rob Newton clung on to a tough catch off Hales six balls before the players left the field, the ball racing to the point boundary. It was one of five boundaries the England opener hit in his unbeaten 30* that proved match winning, alongside Rikki Wessels.
Whilst the home faithful will have left celebrating a win, they were denied what was looking like being an excellent contest as Notts started well, chasing Northants’ 195-7 on another Trent Bridge deck designed for six hitting, the same pitch that saw almost 450 runs on Friday night.
With scores on 227-3 and 222-5, Northants’ effort was perhaps under par, especially given the brutal nature of Levi’s assault. His side couldn’t fully capitalise on his knock, Ben Duckett the only other batsmen to make any real impression.
“Obviously the weather’s had an impact today. I’m happy to get a couple of runs but disappointed with the result,” Levi said, having been named man of the match.
“They bowled quite well to drag it back and taking wickets slows down the rate. We didn’t get to quite where we wanted, but if you’d said we’d get to 195 at the beginning of the day we’d have bitten your arm off.
“We were looking for 210-220 and maybe we should have got there.”
The South African was playing only his second game after missing six weeks following a concussion sustained in the Championship defeat to Worcestershire. He made up for lost time, in the six hitting stakes at least, clearing the boundary eight times.
The shorter boundary on the new stand side was his target, peppering the structure consistently. Jake Ball went for back to back maximums in the third over, a sign of what was to come.
Duckett briefly joined the show, with four boundaries in his 16 ball 28. The second wicket added 60 in five overs to leave Northants well poised on 109-1 at halfway, Levi clubbing Ish Sodhi for a huge leg side six to go to a 26 ball half century.
Luke Wood bowled Duckett, with Rory Kleinveldt following next ball, as Notts momentarily stemmed the tide. But Levi was back in full stride, as the same bowler was twice pulled over the ropes, and even when he did hole out to long-on Wood had overstepped.
The no-ball would only cost a further six, however. Levi lifting Sodhi was maximum number eight over cover, before his downfall came attempting to hit over the longer Fox Road side of the ground and, instead, finding the hands of Hales in the deep.
He departed with Northants 150-4 from 14, but the innings rather stuttered from there on in. Alex Wakely and Steven Crook both hit sixes, but they would be the only boundaries as regular wickets fell, Ben Sanderson giving the Steelbacks a boost by sending the final ball over long on. But 45 from the final six overs had to be a disappointment.
In the end it would prove costly, as Hales and Wessels got the chase off to a flyer, after only two from Sanderson’s opener. The next four all went for double figures, Hales lifting Kleinveldt for a straight six.
With five overs approaching the rain closed in. The Outlaws pair took no chances, knowing they were comfortably clear of par, and one ball past the cut off for a result, Tabriz Shamsi’s delivery proved the last.