A brutal display of ball-striking from Alex Hales powered the Notts Outlaws to a convincing victory over Durham Jets in the NatWest T20 Blast competition.
The England international, who scored an unbeaten 187 to help his county win the Royal London One-Day Cup final a month ago, clubbed nine fours and nine sixes in a stunning innings of 95, made from just 30 deliveries.
West Indies’ star Chris Gayle holds the record for the fastest individual T20 century of all-time, getting to the landmark from only 30 balls and Hales could have equalled it but his mighty assault off James Weighell was caught by wicketkeeper Stuart Poynter.
Hales said, “I knew there was a chance to go for the quickest T20 century of all-time and you don’t get those opportunities very often.
“I love batting at Trent Bridge, for me it is utter paradise, the wickets are great and there are some short boundaries, so I knew there was a chance of doing it. “It’s a special feeling to play here and to get so many in the powerplay overs with Riki.
“As a team we’ve got real momentum at the moment and hopefully we can keep it going.”
Riki Wessels made an undefeated 41 to ensure that Hales’ work didn’t go unrewarded, although there was a clatter of wickets before the home side got over the line to chase down a target of 184 and complete a five-wicket win with 37 balls remaining.
Durham had earlier scored 183 for seven, after being asked to bat first, with Michael Richardson top-scoring with 53 and Paul Coughlin was left undefeated on 42 from 25 deliveries. Pace off the ball proved beneficial for the home attack, with Samit Patel taking two for 23 and both Steven Mullaney and Ish Sodhi also picked up two wickets.
The Outlaws’ run chase began in highly dramatic circumstances, with Durham suddenly finding themselves two bowlers short.
Thirteen runs, including a six from Hales, came from Weighell’s opening over of the innings but it was the next over that produced a flurry of incidents, with three different bowlers needed to complete the set of six.
Usman Arshad was ordered out of the attack after sending down two waist-high full tosses. Coughlin took over and went for two fours and a six before he had to leave the field after being struck on the hand by a blow from Hales. Jack Burnham completed the over with a dot ball.
Hales and Wessels brought up the team 50 in only 3.2 overs but only five more balls were bowled before a short shower sent the players off the field.
The break seemed to re-invigorate the opener as Hales powered his next three balls to the ropes, to leave the total on 78 without loss after five overs.
Ryan Pringle came in for extreme punishment as Hales then took 28 off the next over, passing his 50 from just 19 balls, with seven fours and three sixes. The board read 106-0 at the end of the sixth over, a world record for the powerplay overs.
No bowler was spared, although Cameron Steel put down a bullet of a caught and bowled chance when the international was on 82. Typically, the next two balls disappeared out of the ground.
Once Hales had departed mayhem set in. Both Tom Moores and Mullaney departed to the first ball they faced and Christian only made 10, with Steel getting his first two wickets in the format – but at a personal cost of 60 runs.
Patel made 26 but fell to Brydon Carse when only four runs were needed, leaving Wessels and Brendan Taylor to take the Outlaws over the finishing line.
Earlier in the day, Durham were put under pressure from the very start of their innings when Graham Clark was bowled in the first over by Patel.
Richardson and Steel began to re-build the innings with a stand of 54 but Mullaney separated them as soon as he came into the attack. The first delivery sent down by the medium-pacer was helped out by Steel, straight into the safe hands of Alex Hales at deep midwicket.
Burnham was bowled by Sodhi for one and Gareth Harte, in for the resting Paul Collngwood, lofted Mullaney out to Taylor at deep cover.
The visitors had slid from 57 for one to 68 for four but then had around 15 minutes to regroup after a sudden shower sent the players scurrying back to the dressing rooms.
Upon the resumption Richardson went on to reach his 50 from 37 balls but hit all around a Patel delivery and was bowled.
Sodhi removed Stuart Poynter but an eighth wicket stand of 52 between Coughlin and Ryan Pringle, who made 25, helped the Jets towards a competitive total.
Overthrows helped the Jets take 21 from the final over, with Ball’s last delivery being scooped over his own head for six by Coughlin.
Durham’s defeat was their eighth in 10 matches, whilst the Outlaws now top the North Group table, despite having lost their first two matches in the competition.