Hales on song once again
England Twenty20 opener Alex Hales’ fine form with the bat continued as he propelled Nottinghamshire to a 41-run Friends Life t20 North Group victory over Durham at Trent Bridge.
The 23-year-old, fresh from striking a brilliant 99 against West Indies on his home ground last weekend, hit 88 off 51 balls with four sixes and six fours, sharing a club-record partnership of 142 with Riki Wessels for the second wicket.
Wessels himself made 53 and Michael Lumb 36 as the Outlaws posted 210 for three, with Mitchell Claydon picking up 3-34.
Durham lost early wickets and although Ben Stokes smashed four sixes in his 56 from 32 balls, his dismissal by Darren Pattinson ended any hopes of a win for the visitors, who finished on 169 for seven.
Nottinghamshire have developed a formidable home record in Twenty20 cricket in the past two seasons, based on defending heavy first-innings totals.
They followed the recipe to perfection again, with Lumb kickstarting the innings with a massive six over midwicket off Graham Onions, as well as thumping six fours, before he was caught by a diving Stokes at the start of the fifth over.
Hales was only on seven at that point with Lumb dominating the strike, but slipped into gear by sweeping Scott Borthwick for six.
Durham’s night was summed up when Liam Plunkett was forced out of the attack after two head-high beamers to Wessels, who managed to pull both balls for four.
Needing to get a good start, Durham were restricted to one run off the opening over from Harry Gurney and saw Herschelle Gibbs run out after a mix-up with Phil Mustard, who fell in the next over to Pattinson.
Durham’s chances rested on the shoulders of the big-hitting Stokes. The left-hander briefly had the visitors up with the run-rate and reached his half-century with two straight sixes off Samit Patel, before an attempted paddle shot in the next over from Pattinson picked out Andy Carter at short fine-leg.
That ended any hopes of a Durham win, with the result putting the Outlaws two points behind group leaders Yorkshire with a game in hand.