Group winners Notts to enjoy home comforts

Nottinghamshire Outlaws guaranteed themselves a home quarter-final in the Friends Life t20 after defeating Lancashire Lightning by 60 runs in their final group match at Trent Bridge.

Alex Hales scored 82 as the home side reached 194-6, having been invited to bat first. The opener cleared the ropes on six occasions and also hit three boundaries in his 52-ball innings but was visibly distraught when a direct hit from deep mid-wicket, by Tom Smith, ran him out with still five overs remaining.

Still without a t20 century on his CV, having made an England record 99 against the West Indies last June, it was obvious from Hales’s reaction that he knew a golden opportunity to reach three figures had slipped away.

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A 35-minute stoppage disrupted the Lancashire reply after 11.2 overs but at that stage they were already struggling at 87-6, with Graeme White claiming four of the wickets to fall. It took Notts just a little more than five overs to finish off the visitors’ innings after the restart, eventually bowling them out for only 134 with 19 deliveries remaining unused.

Glen Chapple was the eighth man out, chopping on to his own stumps, to give White figures of 5-22, the best by any Nottinghamshire bowler in t20 cricket. His average of 9.35, meanwhile, is the best in this year’s competition.

Harry Gurney then blasted his way through Arron Lilley’s defences before Samit Patel ended the contest by having Ashwell Prince caught in the deep.

Michael Lumb had been quickly out of the blocks at the start of the afternoon, striking three maximums in a 15-ball knock of 30, helping Hales put on 59 for the Outlaws’ first wicket in the process and a huge total seemed likely as 112-1 had been reached by the halfway stage.

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Although the innings lost some of its momentum after Hales’s departure the final total appeared challenging, especially when Stephen Moore chipped the first ball of the reply straight back to Patel.

Tom Smith made 22 and Steven Croft added 23 but both were among White’s victims as Lancashire’s middle order struggled badly against the spinner.

Both counties must now wait for Wednesday’s quarter-final draw, with Notts having finished top of the group and second-placed Lancashire left contemplating an away trip in the last eight.