Leicestershire 163 for 6 (Ackermann 67*) beat Nottinghamshire 162 for 7 (Duckett 53, Moores 51, Davis 3-38) by four wickets
Skipper Colin Ackermann’s unbeaten 67 helped Leicestershire Foxes end Nottinghamshire Outlaws’ unbeaten record at the top of the North Group in the Vitality Blast T20 in a match that left the visiting side counting the cost of a controversial incident that handed their opponents the bonus of five penalty runs.
The Foxes completed their win with a ball to spare but the talking point was the decision by umpires Nick Cook and Paul Pollard to award them five extra runs in the very first over of their reply as they chased a target of 163, invoking a change in the laws under which the fielding side can be penalised for deliberately distracting or deceiving the batsman on strike.
On this occasion, the umpires ruled that the Outlaws fielder Steven Mullaney had contravened this law by simulating the action of sliding and grabbing the ball in a way that, in their judgement, could have deceived the batsman, in this case opener Nick Welch.
It meant that Ackermann’s 53-ball innings, which contained five fours and a six, was enough to tilt the balance in favour of the Foxes, despite Mullaney making his mark with the ball by taking 2 for 17, with a result that means their chance of advancing to the quarter-finals remains alive.
The Outlaws had earlier looked to be in control after Ben Duckett and Tom Moores put on 102 for the fourth wicket but neither man could add substantially to a half-century apiece, with Will Davis (3 for 38) dragging the Foxes back into contention after Parkinson had earlier taken 2 for 27.
Having won the toss and opted to bat first for only the second time in this year’s competition, the Outlaws did not have the Powerplay they might have envisaged, registering a modest 42 runs and losing three key wickets, two of them for left-arm spinner Parkinson.
The Lancastrian dismissed Chris Nash with the last ball of the first over as the opener’s mistimed stroke went straight to the bowler and claimed the significant scalp of Alex Hales with the fifth ball of the sixth, clipping the top of off stump with a superb delivery that bounced and turned appreciably. In between, the in-form Joe Clarke bottom-edged into his stumps off Dieter Klein, having looked in ominous form again after launching the first two sixes of the evening off Klein and Gavin Griffiths.
Duckett, another Nottinghamshire player for whom this truncated season has gone well, signalled his confidence with a cheeky paddle-scoop for four off Parkinson but, in common with the other batsmen, found it difficult to time his shots on a used pitch and had a life on 12 when Klein, moving to his left from extra cover, put down what should have been a comfortable catch off Griffiths. At halfway, the Outlaws were 69 for three.
Nottinghamshire needed to find some momentum and it was Moores who provided it with some innovation in the 12th over, cracking Arron Lilley for six with an audacious switch hit followed by a scoop for four, 14 coming off the over. Moores continued in similar vein as Klein returned, collecting six more with an effortlessly-time pick-up before unfurling a scorching drive through the covers for four more as his partnership with Duckett moved past 50, before the latter struck three boundaries in a row off Davis to take the Outlaws to 126 for 3 after 15.
The two busy left-handers were enthusiastically cheered on from the Outlaws bench as they rebuilt the innings, adding 102 in 12 overs for the fourth wicket, Moores completing a 34-ball half-century.
But the Foxes, and in particular Davis, conjured up a better finish. The right-arm seamer put the brakes on by dismissing Moores – superbly caught by Klein at deep backward square – and Dan Christian in the 18th over, the Outlaws captain out off a scoop shot to his first ball. Duckett, whose half-century came off 37 balls, clipped Griffiths straight to deep backward square in the penultimate over before Davis picked up his third wicket as Mullaney, having lofted six over deep midwicket, was caught at long-off.
The total still required the home side to score at more than eight an over to half the Outlaws’ winning sequence but the wickets for Davis (3-38) at the end looked to have given the Foxes a chance, which was improved after the opening over of their reply as the umpires awarded the home side five penalty runs in the aforementioned circumstances.
This advantage was undermined when Welch was bowled behind his legs by Samit Patel in the next over, more so as Gareth Delany, having struck a booming straight six over the Mike Turner Centre, sliced his next attempted big hit to be easily caught in the short third man region. However, a six and two fours by Foxes skipper Colin Ackermann off Imad Wasim redressed the balance as the home side reached 56 for two off the opening six overs.
Two meaty straight sixes by Lilley, one off Matt Carter’s off-spin, the second off the former Leicestershire seamer Zak Chappell, advanced the scoreboard and after 10 overs, the Foxes were 93 for two and the partnership with Ackermann building nicely at 67, with 70 more required.
An eventful 11th over from Christian began with three wides but secured a wicket when Lilley drove him in the air straight to long-on and ended with Harry Dearden dropped at slip first ball, although the let-off cost no runs, the new batsman caught by wicketkeeper Moores attempting to scoop Mullaney in the next over, a rare maiden in this format.
Mullaney struck again in his own next over, George Rhodes skying one to Wasim running in from cover, and at the end of the 15th, the outcome was a little more in the balance with the Foxes 124 for 5, needing another 39 and much resting on Ackermann building on the 39-ball half-century he had completed in that over with his fifth four.
Patel dismissed Lewis Hill for 11 to increase the home side’s nerves but two boundaries from Parkinson off an unusually untidy Christian left six to get off the final six deliveries, Chappell given the responsibility of bowling them against his former colleagues but unable to deny them the win as a Parkinson hit the winning run with one ball to spare, Ackermann finishing on 67 not out.
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