For the second time this season Derbyshire fell just short of victory against their local East Midlands rivals, falling to their first home defeat of the season, leaving them on 13 points in the North Group, still topping the table by virtue of net run rate.
The victory lifts Nottinghamshire into fourth place and the final quarter final place on 12 points, however they have a game in hand over their hosts tonight. The Outlaws will play that match tomorrow against Durham at home, who are coming off the back of two consecutive victories, but will be hoping to end that run and finish the weekend on top of the table.
With a batting top six line up of Hales, Wessels, Moores, Taylor, Christian and Patel you expect one to fire and score runs, tonight all bar Hales contributed and set Derbyshire an imposing target of 190 for victory.
The experienced and often brutal attack found the boundary with regular ease throughout the innings, only failing to find the boundary in four of the twenty overs bowled, crossing the rope 23 times with 14 fours and 9 sixes, with two of those sixes coming off the last two balls of the innings.
The Outlaws maintained a steady run rate throughout the innings and always looked like setting the Falcons a large total, even when Hales fell in the fourth over to a catch by Luis Reece off Wayne Madsen, which had he not taken it would have removed his head from his shoulders. The Outlaws barely broke stride, with Hales’ opening partner Riki Wessels and Tom Moores continuing their good work.
It may have been different, though, had Luis Reece held onto a catch on the boundary off Imran Tahir in the third over, which he misjudged and only managed to palm over the rope for six, as Wessels went on to score 37 and give the innings real impetus.
The main stay of the Outlaws’ innings however was the partnership between Moores and Brendon Taylor who joined him when Wessels fell to Alex Hughes in the seventh over, putting on 78 and setting the platform for Samit Patel and captain Dan Christian to smash the Outlaws to the total of 189, Christian scoring 30 off 16 balls and Patel who appeared angry to be batting at six 29 off 18 balls.
The late onslaught came just as Derbyshire’s bowlers appeared to have wrestled back some control, with Ben Cotton and Imran Tahir bowling a spell of four tight overs, however 17 off the last over by Matt Henry proved to be the clincher and took a par score to a score that looked too many on a pitch that difficult to score easily on.
Derbyshire’s reply got off to an awful start, losing Billy Godleman second ball caught behind off Samit Patel whose good night carried on where his batting left off. This brought Luis Reece to the crease who, with his head still attached from earlier, scored a 32 ball 53 that included three straight 6s – which were a joy to behold – and three 4s, before falling to Dan Christian caught by the irrepressible Patel at short cover.
Despite this, Derbyshire never got ahead of the rate and were always under pressure, having to score at 9, 10 or 11 an over and the pressure told, losing wickets at regular intervals, with only Wood, Madsen, Hughes and the afore mentioned Reece making a score of note.
As Derbyshire reached the last 4 overs needing 44 to win, the boundaries dried up and so did the Falcons’ chances of winning, falling 9 runs short of a victory target which always looked above par at the half way stage, the two sixes off the last two balls proving very costly.
Derbyshire head into the last three games with their destiny in their own hands and will be hoping that, with two home games in those last three, they have a real chance of remaining in the quarter final positions and reaching the knock out stages for the first time since 2005.
Notts will be hoping to join them there and a victory tomorrow will go a long way to securing that.