Notts Outlaws head coach Peter Moores praised captain Steven Mullaney as his career-best 124 kept the Royal London One-Day Cup holders’ hopes of reaching the knockout stage alive with a 31-run win at Durham.
The Outlaws’ skipper was the difference between the two sides as he guided his team out of trouble at 73-5 to a competitive total of 255, with a balance of quick running and power hitting towards the end
Outlaws now face local rivals Derbyshire Falcons in their final group match.
Moores said: “It’s funny how the game goes sometimes. We’ve defended a low score twice (this weekend) brilliantly. Credit to the bowlers and the way we fielded.
“We were very calm under pressure. One thing this side has shown is that we know how to get over the line and we’ve done it again today so it’s kept ourselves in the tournament.”
Talking about Mullaney’s matchwinning knock and role as captain, Moores added: “He’s done a great job. He’s batted beautifully today and he bowled well.
Tactically he has shown his versatility. He doesn’t make changes for the sake of it and his field positioning has been outstanding. He’s done a fantastic job so far and may that long continue.
“He knew how to get through to the last five overs. He and Chris Nash rebuilt nicely. We expected a good finish and we gave out a bit of a battering in the end.
“His calmness to get to that point (was good) and we needed every one of those runs to create the pressure to win the game.”
Talking about the winner-takes-all match against Derbyshire, Moores said: “Every time we play Derbyshire it’s a big game, but a day/nighter you expect to be absolutely rammed, which will be great.”
The visitors were inserted by Durham skipper Tom Latham, and Mark Wood got his side off to the perfect start, clean bowling Riki Wessels off the first ball of the innings.
Alex Hales struggled to get going in his innings and was caught looking to break the shackles by Michael Richardson.
The introduction of Gareth Harte paid dividends as Moores edged behind for 23, while Matt Dixon had Samit Patel caught at fine leg.
Despite Durham’s inroads, the presence of Ross Taylor was a threat. He was looking in good touch at the crease, but then played on to a Harte delivery to put the home side in the ascendancy.
Mullaney and Chris Nash were able to stabilise the innings by knocking the ball around the ground. The duo were steady in their approach, putting on a 50 partnership in 92 deliveries.
Ryan Pringle ended the partnership with a turning delivery to dismiss Nash lbw for 40, while Billy Root followed cheaply. However, Mullaney remained composed at the crease to notch his 50 before upping the ante towards the end of the innings. Dixon felt the brunt of his onslaught as he powered his way towards three figures.
The Notts skipper reached the milestone off 111 deliveries, including seven fours and three sixes. Mullaney pushed on in the final over to reach his highest List A score, hitting Dixon for three-straight sixes before he was caught by Richardson for 124. Dixon ended with figures of 2-88 - the most expensive List A statistics recorded by a Durham bowler.
The home side’s reply began poorly as Cameron Steel edged behind to hand Jake Ball his 100th List A wicket. Graham Clark and Richardson built a steady partnership, putting on 50 off 80 deliveries. Samit Patel dropped Clark off his own bowling, but returned in the following over to dismiss the opener for 36.
Latham arrived at the crease with an attacking intent. He found found the rope four times and also scored a six, but was then out tamely to Nash for 28. Will Smith joined Richardson in the middle and the duo picked up from where they left off in their last outing, reaching their fifty partnership at a brisk pace.
However, Durham lost quick wickets to stifle their momentum as Richardson, Poynter Smith and Harte were dismissed as the pressure started to build. The tail were left with a huge task as the required rate soared, and the visitors were able to hold their composure to secure the win.