A week gone in this year’s T20 Blast – and the fiery furnaces are warming up nicely.
Three sides – Yorkshire, Hampshire and Somerset – posted 200-plus targets.
One of the chasing sides, Middlesex, reached their target of 216 to beat Hampshire and claim their first win, while Leicestershire made a determined effort, only to fall short despite the innings of the night, 82 off 37 balls from Yorkshire-born, Australian-bred wicketkeeper Josh Inglis.
But it was also a night when some of the game’s bigger hitters – like Alex Hales and Jonny Bairstow – started to fire too.
Somerset’s first win in South Group, at Kent’s expense, means that Leicestershire and Northants, in North Group, are now the only two winless sides after an action-placed first week of T20 Blast.
But South Group also has the only two 100% records left after Sussex matched Surrey with three wins from three.
They are joint top with Surrey in an early table that has three sides on six points – and all the rest on two.
Hales just missed out on the fifth century of his global T20 career, but it was still enough to earn holders Notts Outlaws a second straight win and a first defeat for Durham.
The 32-year-old hit an unbeaten 96 off 54 balls, backed by 52 from Ben Duckett as Notts posted 195-5.
Opener David Bedingham made 65 but Durham fell short on 182-8 to lose by 13 runs.
Birmingham Bears got off to bad start at Wantage Road when Ed Pollock was out to the first ball of match.
But a 90-run stand for the third wicket between Sam Hain (69 not out), with his third half-century in four games, and Pieter Malan (63) helped the Bears reach 170-3.
Spinner Jake Lintott then took 4-20 to bowl out their hosts for 115 in the 19th over to win by 55 runs and edge above Midlands rivals Worcestershire to the top of the table.
Yorkshire Vikings hit the highest score of the night as they beat winless Leicestershire Foxes – although only by 18 runs in the end after the game visitors, sparked by Inglis, made a very bold effort to get home.
The Tykes were sparked by a 113-run stand for the first wicket between England wicketkeeper Bairstow (82 off 45 balls) and Adam Lyth (51).
David Willey then clubbed 44 off 21, before being outscored by Harry Brook’s 48 not out from 16 balls.
There were a whopping 15 sixes between the four Yorkshire batters as they posted 240-4, their side’s third highest T20 score.
Leicestershire then made a brave victory bid but the game turned on Jordan Thompson’s superb catch to remove Inglis 18 short of his century.
The Foxes did reach 222-8, their second highest score in this competition, to ease the pain of a fourth straight defeat.
Lancashire Lightning won with 10 balls to spare as they chased down 196-5 to beat Derbyshire Falcons with surprising ease in the end.
From 9-2, Derbyshire, beaten semi-finalists in 2019, recovered thanks largely to a 100-run third-wicket stand between Harry Came (56) and Leus du Plooy (92) – both their best T20 knocks for the county.
But, despite the early first-ball of loss of Finn Allen in the first over, Alex Davies came in at three to make a matchwinning 83 not out off 54 balls.
Lancashire’s batting failed at Worcester on Sunday when they were well beaten to end their winning start, but Liam Livingstone (45 off 29), Jos Buttler (20 off 10) and then skipper Dane Vilas (an unbeaten 40 off 28) all helped Davies reach 197- to win by seven wickets.
Middlesex got their first win of this year’s competition at the third attempt as they successfully chased down the 215-6 posted by Hampshire Hawks across the Hertfordshire county border at Radlett.
At a ground with short boundaries, big scores were only to be expected. And the 800 fans allowed in saw 21 sixes.
D’Arcy Short top scored for Hampshire with 48 but all the top five had proper starts as they tucked into the hosts’ two most experienced players, Chris Green and Steven Finn, in particular.
Middlesex made a poor start, slumping to 30-3 inside the first 21 balls, including the removal of England one-day captain Eoin Morgan fourth ball by Kyle Abbott.
But a superb stand of 122 in 10 overs between Joe Cracknell (77) and John Simpson (62) turned the game before Green came in to atone for his earlier woes by hitting 26 off 13 balls as Middlesex won by three wickets with two balls to spare.
Somerset also claimed their first win as they comfortably beat Kent Spitfires by 47 runs at Taunton to end their opponents 100% winning start to the competition.
They had red-ball captain Tom Abell to chiefly thank. He hit 68 in a 90-run stand with Lewis Goldsworthy (48) to help his side rattle up 204-7.
But, despite Zak Crawley forgetting his Test match struggles by making a successful return from England duty with 48 from 23 balls, Kent ran out of steam.
Three quick wickets for Marchant de Lange finished off Kent as the visitors suffered a first defeat in four games.
Sussex made short work of Essex Eagles in the night’s other South Group game.
Essex were limited to 128-8 at Chelmsford – and Sussex took just 14 overs to get there.
Captain Luke Wright led the charge with 745 off 44 balls to complete their third straight win.
What’s up next?
Wednesday: Leicestershire v Birmingham Bears (Leicester), Worcestershire v Yorkshire (New Road)
Thursday: Derbyshire v Northants (Derby), Durham v Lancashire (Chester-le-Street)
Wednesday: Glamorgan v Kent (Sophia Gardens)
Thursday: Middlesex v Gloucestershire (Radlett), Surrey v Sussex (The Oval)