To defeat Durham, Alex Hales shows coolness after the storm
By defeating Durham by five wickets at Seat Unique Riverside in the Vitality Blast, Alex Hales produced an unbeaten 65 to lead Nottinghamshire Outlaws back to winning ways.
After going scoreless in his previous game against the Lancashire Lightning, the England starter was in commanding form for the Outlaws.
Alex Hales played the anchor position during his innings, allowing teammates Tom Moores and Shaheen Afridi to propel Notts over the finish line with four balls to spare by being aggressive at the beginning of his knock to put his team ahead of the rate.
The hosts’ innings of 168 was led by Ollie Robinson‘s second T20 fifty in as many days, which he scored earlier in the day. However, Durham was forced to regret a costly conclusion to their innings after scoring just nine runs from their final two overs, which was a major factor in their first tournament loss this season.
Graham Clark of Durham, who had lost the toss, attempted to add to his century from their first game. He found his range in the third over, thrashing Afridi for a six and a boundary into the leg-side off successive deliveries before merely lifting an off-drive over the head of Matthew Carter at mid-off to give the home team momentum.
For 29, Conor McKerr stopped Clark’s assault after Mullaney was picked by the opener. But after managing to edge Tom Moores’ initial ball past him, Michael Jones preserved Durham’s promising start. The Scotland international hit five boundaries in a rapid-fire 26 from 12 balls, but Mullaney bowled Jones with a gem before forcing Alex Lees to be caught for 13.
Durham needed to act to stop the tide. Turner and Robinson made a crucial fourth-wicket stand under pressure that was worth 57 runs. The cleverness of Robinson and the force of Turner laid the groundwork for the Durham innings, and the two players worked effectively together.
Turner tried to increase the run rate, but Hales took a brilliant low catch at long-off and gave Mullaney his third wicket. Following his career-best performance against Yorkshire, Robinson persisted and persisted in fending off the Nottinghamshire attack, dispatched Afridi for two boundaries to register his second Blast fifty in a row.
In order to limit Durham to a score of 168 from their 20 overs, Afridi took retribution by bowling Robinson before he and McKerr shut down the home team in the final two overs, which only cost nine runs.
With three boundaries and a six, Joe Clarke got the Outlaws’ response off to a flying start. However, Liam Trevaskis showed quick thinking to palm up a strong drive and dismiss the opener caught and bowled. For the visitors, Hales responded by hammering 25 off of one over from De Leede, including two enormous sixes into the leg-side.
Ben Raine and Nathan Sowter made inroads into the Nottinghamshire lineup, but Lyndon James provided a helpful cameo to relieve pressure on Hales to keep the visitors ahead of the necessary rate before he was caught for 20 by Turner.
Hales changed his strategy from being an aggressor to a game manager as wickets fell, scoring his fifty off 33 balls for the 72nd time in T20 cricket. Moores was able to find his range against Trevaskis during his innings, hitting 16 runs off the 14th over to move Notts one step closer to their goal of a victory.
Moores became Raine’s second victim of the match, falling for 32, but there was to be no drama in the end as Afridi hammered two sixes off De Leede and then Trevaskis in the final over to seal the victory for the visitors.