Final ball heartbreak for the Running Foxes
BLAST QUARTER-FINAL | Leicestershire Foxes 139 for seven vs Notts Outlaws 139 for seven. Notts Outlaws win on countback (score after powerplay).
SCORECARD | Available from Cricinfo HERE
REPORT | Leicestershire Foxes take it down to the wire, not for the first time this season, missing out on a place at Finals Day by the narrowest of margins.
The Foxes recovered strongly with the bat after a strong opening six overs from the Notts bowling attack and bowled impressively themselves to give the Foxes a fighting chance.
Leicestershire made the short trip to Trent Bridge for a Thursday evening Vitality Blast quarter-final match against Notts Outlaws live on Sky Sports, with the winner progressing through to Finals Day to face Lancashire Lightning in the semi-final round match on Saturday (3/10).
The toss was won by Outlaws captain, Dan Christian who elected to bowl first forcing the Foxes opened with Nick Welch on strike, accompanied by Gareth Delany, facing the spin of Imad Wasim.
The start was testing for the Foxes with Welch pulling his first boundary in the second over off the bowling of Samit Patel.
The Foxes’ first wicket was soon up, though, as Delany was bowled by the Outlaws spinner for 0(5b).
Arron Lilley came into the middle to face the first over of seamer Jake Ball.
Lilley looked to come out in explosive fashion, but could only manage to end a Ball delivery high into the sky and straight into the hands of Alex Hales for 1(7b).
Captain Colin Ackermann joined Welch in the middle as the Foxes needed to stem the Outlaws’ rhythm.
Following some conservative overs, Ackermann found his first maximum in the final over of the powerplay to move the Foxes to 22 for two.
Welch looked to follow suite quickly after, however his drive was short as he was caught by Ben Duckett at mid-wicket off Steven Mullaney for 12(16b, 1x4).
Harry Swindells was the next Fox in, with a vital partnership needed for the Running Foxes.
The pair of Ackermann and Swindells were running hard in the middle to try and inject some momentum into the innings, and at the halfway point of the innings the Foxes were 42 for three.
The pair were getting plenty of bat on the deliveries but were struggling to find the gaps, however they soon came thick and fast.
Ackermann was leading from the front, with more success coming against the spinners and brought up the Foxes’ 50 runs up in the eleventh over following a maximum off Patel.
The Foxes skipper added two maximums and two boundaries and Swindells hit three perfectly placed boundaries to post four consecutive double-figure overs to push the Foxes to 88 for three.
The partnership came to an end, though, as Ackermann was caught by Chris Nash off Matt Carter for 43(33b, 2x4, 3x6) looking to flick one down to fine leg.
The crucial partnership came to an end on 66(48b).
Lewis Hill joined Swindells in the middle and with five overs remaining the Foxes were 93 for four.
The ton was brought up in the sixteenth over as Hill opened his boundary account for the evening.
The Leicestershire born wicket-keepers were finding the boundary at an important stage of the innings, whilst running well in the middle to drive the scoreboard to 123 for four heading into the final two overs.
The wicket of Hill fell from the bowling of Christian as he was pinned lbw for 17(12b, 2x4).
Ben Mike came in looking to finish the Foxes’ innings with a flourish and was lucky to see a second delivery after being dropped by Ball at square leg, as he looked to send Christian for six.
However, Notts were not left rueing the drop as Wasim caught him off the very next ball at extra cover for 2(2b).
Dieter Klein came into the middle as Swindells achieved his first T20 half-century of the season off 40b (6x4).
He continued to excel the run-rate, hitting two further boundaries off Ball in the final over before being caught by Hales for a hugely important 58(43, 8x4).
Callum Parkinson joined Klein to finish the innings on 139 for seven.
Parkinson then opened the bowling for the Foxes with Chris Nash on strike, accompanied by Alex Hales.
The Running Foxes led with spin with Parkinson and Ackermann opening from either end. This was followed up with another over of Parkinson and between them, they restricted the Outlaws 19 for one after the first three overs.
Parkinson claimed the wicket, as he sent Hales’ bails flying for the second match running as the former-England international went for 9(7b).
The Running Foxes were sharp and energetic in the field to restrict the Outlaws, however the final over of the powerplay was costly and the Outlaws moved to 42 for one, and went on to bring up their 50 in the following over.
With Ackermann brought back into the Foxes attack he took the second wicket of Joe Clarke (35, 22b), caught at long off by Gavin Griffiths – who did well to hold on to the high drive - and the Outlaws were 58 for two.
Griffiths then came in for his first over in the following over and backed his catch up with a wicket of his own, bowling Ben Duckett (3, 4b) putting Outlaws on 62 for three after 9 overs.
The Outlaws posted five further runs in the tenth over as they sat on 67 for three at the halfway point of their innings.
Griffiths came back into the attack and combined with his skipper to dismiss Outlaws opener Nash for 17(26b). Ackermann took the outstanding grab, diving low to his right at mid-wicket and clung on to the drive.
Dan Christian and Tom Moores were now in the middle for the Outlaws, with the latter hurting the Foxes.
Parkinson came back in to bowl his final over conceding just four runs in the fifteenth.
The slow left-armer led the bowling attack superbly, posting figures of 4-0-21-1, and recording 14 dot balls.
With five overs remaining, Outlaws were 98 for four, requiring 42 runs.
Ackermann came in for his final over and took back-to-back wickets to propel the Foxes into the ascendancy.
The first victim was his counterpart, Dan Christian (5, 13b) who was caught by an excellent diving catch by Will Davis.
The Foxes skipper then clean bowled Moores (26, 21b) with his very next delivery.
With four overs remaining, Outlaws were 104 for six, requiring 36.
The Foxes switched to seam for the final four overs and consecutive tight overs from Klein and Davis saw the Outlaws head into the penultimate over on 117 for six, requiring 23.
Griffiths came back into bowl the nineteenth and claimed the seventh Outlaws wicket, as Steven Mullaney (7, 9b) was caught by Lilley on 18.5 and the Foxes looked to be in a commanding position.
A mis-field from Lilley from the next ball saw what looked to be a standard single turn into a boundary from Patel as he claimed four from the final ball of the over, leaving the Outlaws on 127 for seven, requiring 10.
It was Davis to bowl the final over and restricted Imad Wasim and Patel to a run a ball after three deliveries.
Patel then lofted Davis’ fourth delivery over the covers for a much needed six from the Outlaw’s point of view.
Davis restricted Patel to just one from the penultimate ball of the contest, leaving Outlaws needing three from the final ball with Wasim on strike.
Wasim turned Davis’ full toss into the leg-side which ran all the way to Dieter Klein at long-on.
It looked like a certain run-out opportunity as the Outlaws pair were scurrying for a double, which then turned into a certain double following a mis-field from Klein.
The two runs meant that the scores were level on 139 for seven following the 20 overs, however, as the scores were level, the game then went down to wickets taken.
As both teams had claimed seven wickets apiece, the next step was to go to runs posted during the powerplay, and as the Outlaws’ powerplay (42/1) yielded more runs than the Foxes’ (22/2), this meant that the home side advanced through to Finals Day on Saturday following a countback.
The Foxes’ 2020 Vitality Blast campaign came to an end in dramatic fashion against the competition’s favourites, as the Outlaws won by the finest of margins over the youngest squad in the competition.
FIGURES | Parkinson 4-0-21-1, Ackermann 4-0-27-3, Klein 3-0-21-0, Delany 1-0-8-0, Griffiths 4-0-21-3, Lilley 1-0-14-0, Davis 3-0-22-0
FOXES | Ackermann (c), Lilley, Welch, Delany, Mike, Hill, Swindells (wk), Klein, Parkinson, Griffiths, Davis.
OUTLAWS | Hales, Nash, Clarke, Duckett, Moores, Christian (c), Mullaney, Patel, Wasim, Carter, Ball.
IMAGES | Thanks to John Mallett of Outside Off for supplying images throughout the game.