Cairns squeezes out Nottinghamshire win
Nottinghamshire 150 for 5 (Cairns 50) beat Leicestershire 149 (Ackerman 55) by five wickets
It was a close match between two teams whose play was rather patchy. Nottinghamshire eventually struggled to beat Leicestershire - who were lacking in sparkle and confidence and whose ground fielding was crucially fallible - by five wickets, with two balls to spare.
Leicestershire, before this season the competition's most successful team by a street, were desperate to win this match after four losses in four matches. They won the toss and chose to bat in favourable conditions, but unfortunately, for the most part, failed to make the best use of them.
The main exception was HD Ackerman, who scored his third successive fifty and provided the team with a backbone. He batted quietly and soundly, without undue flamboyance, but by skilful batting made 55 off 45 balls, before fatally sweeping Rob Ferley to be caught on the square-leg boundary. There were just two partnerships that might have enabled Leicestershire to flourish. Jaques du Toit, who opened with Ackerman, ran up 20 off just 11 balls, but was then brilliantly run out, backing up too far looking for a single that wasn't there, by Samit Patel at point. The other was when Paul Nixon scored 26 off 21 balls, including a six over midwicket off Patel, but he was eventually caught on that same boundary trying to repeat the shot.
Ackerman and Nixon had been motoring at about ten an over, but after this the wheels came loose, rather than off, despite Matthew Boyce doing his best with 22 not out. There were two wickets apiece for spinners Patel and Ferley, also the most economical bowlers.
The target appeared to be none too difficult, but Nottinghamshire made a bad start, losing two wickets for seven runs in the first two overs. Will Jefferson (26 off 14 balls) and Shafayat (27) started to restore the situation, but Notts really needed somebody to stay longer. After 10 overs, at 69 for 3 they were 10 runs behind Leicestershire at a similar stage.
The Chrises, Cairns and Read, then united in a solid partnership that progressed mainly through good placement and running, though not without a couple of narrow escapes. But with five overs left, 46 were still needed and they were falling further behind the rate. Cairns seemed to be taking his responsibilities very seriously and relying on a final charge.
Thirty needed off the last three: Cairns with a couple of powerful shots helped take 12 off the next over from James Allenby. The batsmen were helped as Leicestershire leaked unnecessary runs through fielding errors. Cairns reached his 50 off 39 balls - six fours but none of his famous sixes - and then was gone next ball, a soft catch to midwicket. Nine would need to come off the final over without him.
First came a mis-hit scoop by Mark Ealham to the third-man boundary, and more clumsy fielding then allowed two when one should have been enough. The next ball saw an overthrow, turning a two into one, and the scores were level with three balls to come. A pull for a single by Ealham sealed the match, and Leicestershire, who had sadly fielded like losers, ended up that way.
Their best bowler, as was the case with the home side, was a spinner, Claude Henderson's four overs conceding only 17 runs for the wicket of Shafayat. Both teams, though, will need to improve if they are to challenge the best sides.