The Steelbacks’ final home NatWest T20 Blast outing of the season ended in defeat as they went down by 22 runs to the Nottinghamshire Outlaws.
Chasing the visitors’ 174/6, the Steelbacks ended their pursuit on 152/7 and with it went their extremely slim hopes of advancing to the last eight. For the visitors’, victory assures them of a quarter-final spot and should they beat Yorkshire Vikings at Headingley on Friday, then that tie will be staged at Trent Bridge.
The Outlaws, having won the toss on a fresh County Ground surface, made an expansive start. Steven Mullaney took four boundaries off the second over bowled by David Willey and he was quickly joined by Alex Hales who launched his fourth ball into the member’s pavilion. The England man added a handful more boundaries before dragging an attempted pull on from Steven Crook and Mullaney, once the powerplay had concluded, lofted Muhammad Azharullah to long-leg.
A period of consolidation followed as Riki Wessels and Samit Patel prevented any more blood-letting while maintaining a respectable rate. The 100 came up in the 13th over with the expected acceleration following, Wessels doing the majority of the damage. His 50, which occupied 30 balls, arrived a delivery after Willey, who had just concluded his three-over stint which went for 49, had put him down at long-on. The pair’s century partnership, which took up 11 overs, came just before Patel lofted Crook to long-on.
At this stage, a total nearing 200 appeared on the cards but the loss of four wickets in the final three overs, Wessels among them for 64 and Crook finishing with the excellent figures of three for 19, meant the score posted was a gettable 174/6.
Not that it would’ve looked that way three overs into the response with both David Willey and Richard Levi, to successive Ajmal Shahzad deliveries, having an early shower. Adam Rossington didn’t do too much as he hit James Franklin over the midwicket rope before chipping tamely to long-off but Kyle Coetzer and Crook took the score to 64-3 midway through.
That left 111 needed from 60 balls, not particularly easy but definitely possible and this had been reduced further before Crook dragged Patel to long-on. Coetzer passed 50 for the first time this year and while he was at the crease there was a chance but when he fell for 67 at the end of an outstanding Harry Gurney over, the 18th, the contest was finished.