Outlaws earn breathing space
Nottinghamshire Outlaws tightened their grip at the top of the Friends Provident t20 North Group with their ninth win in 12 games, crushing Leicestershire Foxes by seven wickets in a high-scoring match at Grace Road.
The Outlaws chased down a target of 183 with nine balls to spare as Ali Brown and Matthew Wood led the victory charge with swift half-centuries.
It was the Foxes' fifth home defeat in a row despite a brilliant century from Australian Brad Hodge that steered them to a competitive total of 182 for three.
But with Brown hammering 55 off 34 balls and Wood hitting 61 off 37 balls the Outlaws made light work of the runs chase on an easy-paced pitch.
The innings of the match however came from Hodge who scored his first Twenty20 century for the Foxes off 65 balls with seven fours and four sixes before being run out for 103.
The Australian, who played for the county in 2003 and 2004 and has rejoined them this season for the t20 competition, had a previous best score of 97 that he made in his very first game seven years ago.
Hodge and James Taylor shared a third-wicket partnership of 121 in 12 overs to gain the initiative after the Outlaws had the Foxes at 44 for two in the seventh over.
Both batsmen produced some dazzling stroke play and brutal hitting as the Foxes scored 116 runs off the last 10 overs with 70 runs coming off the final five.
Hodge, after reaching his fifty off 40 balls with four fours and a six, stepped up the pace with a blistering second half-century as Taylor joined in the big hitting, contributing an unbeaten 56 off 38 balls.
It needed a magnificent throw from Scott Elstone to run out Hodge but Leicestershire's score looked good enough to set Notts a stern challenge.
The Foxes' bowling never matched the quality of their batting and the Outlaws paced the run chase perfectly.
Openers Alex Hales and Brown scored 47 in the first five overs and then Wood joined Brown in a stand of 74 off seven overs that took the game away from the home side.
Brown blazed 50 off 32 balls including three sixes and two other boundaries and Wood's fifty came off just 29 balls.
Even when Brown fell to a catch at cover off Nathan Buck the Foxes were unable to stem the flow of runs and, after Wood's departure for 61, Samit Patel and Steven Mullaney saw the Outlaws safely through to victory with nine balls to spare.