Rashid Khan would have been forgiven for not putting in a performance for Trent Rockets. With events 5,000 miles away in Afghanistan, it would have been easy for him to have gone through the motions. Khan isn’t any ordinary performer, and he produced 20 balls where you felt a wicket could fall at any moment.
The Leg spinner finished with figures of three for 16 and took two quality catches as the Rockets edged closer to finishing in the top three, as they won by seven wickets with five balls to spare.
It was a simple equation for Trent Rockets to win and leave the other permutations to everyone else in front of their fans at Trent Bridge.
Manchester Originals were going along steadily, with openers Phil Salt and Joe Clarke racing to 33 from 23 balls. Clarke was responsible for 27 of those runs, before falling to his Nottinghamshire teammate Samit Patel with just two balls of the powerplay left.
Salt was joined by Colin Munro, who immediately smashed Patel back over his head for a six that would have sailed over Ratcliffe Road, had the stand not been there to stop it.
At 70 for one, it was looking rosy for the Originals. Lewis Gregory had used five bowlers by the time Khan came onto bowl – and the impact was immediate. Salt, trying to sweep Khan, top-edged it and Patel at short fine leg pouched an easy catch. Colin Ackerman was lbw two balls later, and Originals were subsiding fast.
In the space of ten deliveries, the promising start of 70 for one had turned into 75 for five. Khan was responsible for three of the wickets to fall, and Gregory with a direct hit from mid-off sent Dan Douthwaite on his way.
Much would rest on the shoulders of Munro. Unfortunately for the New Zealander, he had a rush of blood on 45 from 22 balls. Having already hit four fours and three sixes, he tried to smash Marchant de Lange and the bowler rearranged the batsman’s stumps with pleasure. Munro knew that it was probably game over, and his displeasure was there for all to see.
Trent Rockets would need 136 to win and, with no sign of D’arcy Short, Dawid Malan opened alongside Alex Hales. The pair raced to 50 from 37 balls before Matt Parkinson took the first of his two wickets, getting Hales to nick behind for 19.
Steven Mullaney came and went for a ten-ball 17, before Samit Patel came to the middle to keep Malan company, and the pair added 50 for the third wicket.
Malan has had a feast or famine Hundred, either getting out quick or scoring fifty. His 52 tonight was his third half-century of the competition.
With nine balls left, Trent Rockets needed 12 runs and, with seven wickets to spare, Patel launched Hartley for a six to make the equation more manageable. With Malan gone, Patel and Short brought the game home with 5 balls to spare and an elated Trent Bridge got to its feet in appreciation.
Afterwards, Malan had this to say: “I was really disappointed not to finish it off but having Samit there with his experience was great.
“We were behind in the first innings but Rashid Khan bowled a terrific spell and that gave us a total we could chase.
“It’s a strange season – I’m either getting nought or getting runs, but I’m happy with another 50.
“We’ve got a great team spirit and the crowd here at Trent Bridge have been really behind us every time.”