Nottinghamshire 152 for 5 (Patel 45, Christian 36*) beat Somerset 151 for 6 (Davies 59, Trego 40) by five wickets
Trent Bridge has been the home of the T20 runfest this season, yielding a mouthwatering 10.45 runs per over, almost two runs per over higher than the competition average. Nottinghamshire have exploited it spectacularly to their advantage, twice making 225 or higher. Bowlers have suffered badly.
So if any team might have fancied they could put Nottinghamshire’s somewhat fragile record in quarter-finals in this competition under pressure, even with no Chris Gayle around, you would imagine Somerset could be the one, maybe even more after home captain Dan Christian invited them to set the scoreboard pressure by inviting them to bat first.
What’s more, Somerset figure in Nottinghamshire’s T20 nightmares, too, having beaten them on Finals Day in 2010 and again, at the quarter-final stage the following year, on this ground, beginning a sequence that saw the Trent Bridge fall at this stage of the competition in four consecutive seasons, each time in front of their own supporters.
Not on this occasion. Against all predictions, Somerset could muster probably less than 75% of what they would have estimated as necessary if Alex Hales or Riki Wessels were to get going. Their 20-over score was 32 fewer than the lowest here in the group stages this season. It did not augur well.
Yet Nottinghamshire hardly coasted home, losing Wessels third ball when he smacked a long hop from legspinner Max Waller straight to Craig Overton on the midwicket boundary, and then Hales in the fourth, controversially, in an incident that was to cast Peter Trego, the tattooed pirate in the West Country side, in the role of pantomime villain for the rest of the evening.
Hales, who had looked to be warming up nicely with three boundaries off Overton’s opening over, hit a ball from Lewis Gregory, in the air but dipping fast, in the direction of Trego at mid-off.
Trego dived forward, claiming the catch. The on-field decision from umpire David Millns was out, but Hales looked at him, not convinced. The officials conferred, and called for help. Replay after replay on the big screen were inconclusive, yet to the majority in the 13,000 crowd focussed on the angles that seemed to show Trego guilty of a false claim. They booed, they shouted ‘cheat’.
Trego – who had made 40 off 34 balls earlier before being brilliantly caught off a pull shot by a diving Jake Ball – simply loved it, especially when the big screen eventually proclaimed that Hales indeed was out. He cocked an ear to the crowd, encouraging them to boo more loudly.
The mood was suddenly subdued and Nottinghamshire struggled to get going for a long time. At 44 for 3 at the end of the Powerplay, Tom Moores having gone to a catch by Roelof van der Merwe that was almost the equal of Ball’s, they were ahead of Somerset at that stage, but only by seven runs.
By the end of the 10th, in which Brendan Taylor was run out by a direct hit from Johann Myburgh at short square-leg, they were behind by seven runs at 69 for 4. For a while, it seemed Somerset might be about in bring heartache to the East Midlands again, as they did in 2011, and as Hampshire and Glamorgan have brought to Derbyshire and Leicestershire already in this season’s quarter-finals.
Happily, for the home crowd, everything was transformed in a burst of scoring between the 12th and 14th overs, as Samit Patel and Dan Christian at last found their range. The two shared a 54-run partnership for the fifth wicket, of which 39 came in those three overs, as Tim Groenwald, Waller and Paul van Meekeren in turn were punished.
The pressure off, the requirement down to 39 from six overs, the rest was relatively easy. Patel went for 45, run out by some nifty footwork by Gregory on his follow-through, but a big 18th over, with a six apiece from Christian and Steven Mullaney, ensured there would be no late scares, Mullaney lofting the winning boundary off Gregory in the 19th.
Christian finished unbeaten on 36 but the difference at this batsman’s paradise was the quality of the bowling, in the end. Nottinghamshire’s was tight, penetrating, testing almost throughout.
Ball, Christian and Patel took two wickets each – Ball’s in the course of that T20 rarity, a maiden over – but it was the numbers in the economy column that were the most impressive. Ball and Christian conceded fewer than six runs per over, Patel only 6.50.
Steven Davies batted well for his 59, hitting three sixes and five fours, but needed support that only Trego could provide. Myburgh and James Hildreth, two of their bankers in the absence of their injured skipper, Jim Allenby, both went first ball.