Some extraordinary hitting from Alex Hales helped Nottinghamshire Outlaws to kick off their NatWest T20 Blast campaign with a convincing eight wicket victory over the Birmingham Bears at Trent Bridge.
The England one-day international was in irresistible form as he raced to an unbeaten 86 from only 43 balls, hitting five fours and eight sixes as his side cantered to the win with 33 balls to spare.
Birmingham had posted 141-7 after being invited to bat first, with captain Varun Chopra making 80 from 61 balls but his side struggled against a disciplined bowling unit, led by Luke Fletcher, who took 3-24.
Calum MacLeod thrashed a 23-ball half-century to set Durham on the way to a 41-run win against Northamptonshire under the Duckworth-Lewis method in the NatWest T20 Blast match at Chester-le-Street.
The Scot made 60 and Phil Mustard 51 as Durham reached 174-8 after being put in, a decision the visitors had cause to regret as they stumbled to 47-5 in poor light before rain halted play.
They had batted for eight overs, three more than required for a result to be declared, and when the rain stopped it was announced that they needed a further 84 runs off four overs.
Not even Shahid Afridi, on three not out after going in at No 6, could have been expected to pull that off, and after further deliberation in semi-darkness the umpires called it a day.
The fading light was already taking effect at the end of the Durham innings as they added only 28 after scorching to 146-3 after 15 overs.
On midsummer nights Durham will hope both for better weather and bigger crowds than the 2,940 who turned up.
Captain Ian Cockbain hit his best T20 score of 91 to guide Gloucestershire to a seven-wicket victory over Middlesex at Bristol.
Cockbain smacked five sixes and nine fours in an exciting 49-ball innings, sharing a second-wicket stand of 98 in 9.3 overs with Hamish Marshall (56) as the hosts reached a target of 176 to win with an over to spare.
Earlier, Nick Compton had also made a career-best T20 score of 78, off 53 balls, with nine fours to help Middlesex post 175-3.
Paul Stirling contributed 39 and Adam Voges 31 not out, while Benny Howell was the most economical Gloucestershire bowler.
Cockbain said: “Head coach Richard Dawson rang me last week to tell me I would be captain in the opening T20 games so I have had a bit of time to get my head around it.
“I couldn’t have hoped for a better start. We thought the Middlesex total was very competitive, but I think the drizzle that got on the pitch while we were batting actually helped us. It meant the ball slid on and it was easier to strike through the line.”