Trent Rockets 127 for 1 (Malan 62*, Short 51*) beat Southern Brave 126 for 8 (de Lange 5-20) by nine wickets
A brutal spell of fast bowling from Marchant de Lange set Trent Rockets on the path to an overwhelming victory over Southern Brave at Trent Bridge.
de Lange, a late replacement as overseas player in the Rockets squad, claimed the tournament's first five-for as reward for a spell of sustained and smart pace bowling to help the Rockets complete a nine-wicket victory with 18-balls to spare.
Provided excellent support from his side's spin bowlers - not least Joe Root and Samit Patel, who both conceded less than a run-a-ball - de Lange's burst kept Brave to the lowest total so far recorded in the competition on an excellent pitch offering surprising pace and bounce. Indeed, de Lange, who had never played a competitive game at the ground, said he had been warned the surface would be a bit sluggish.
There were a couple of uncomfortable moments early in the Rockets reply. Alex Hales was bowled by the first ball he faced, a lovely inswinging yorker from George Garton, and Dawid Malan sustained a sharp blow on the glove from a lifting ball from the distinctly slippery Tymal Mills.
But with little pressure from the run-rate, Malan was able to take a measured approach to his innings. And in partnership with D'Arcy Short he added an unbroken 124 from 82 balls to take Rockets to victory over one of the pre-tournament favourites for the title.
"De Lange is quite an aggressive bowler and he hit the deck pretty hard and used his yorker well towards the end," Ross Whiteley, who top-scored for his side with 39, said. "He is a class act.
"Losing a couple of wickets in the Powerplay is always tough. We tried to rebuild through the middle but kept losing wickets at crucial times and were probably 25 or 30 short."
Marchant of menace
If you don't know what de Lange looks like, imagine a bear in man fancy dress. Maybe the teeth are a little less sharp; maybe the back a little less hairy. But he is, basically, an enormous, beast of a man who looks as if he could snap tree trunks, hurl boulders and scare the villagers into chasing him with pitchforks. Really, he could make Arnold Schwarzenegger look like a vole, want to wear long sleeves and commit to going to the gym far more often.
Anyway, until a couple of weeks ago, de Lange was looking at spending this portion of the season playing for Somerset in the Royal London One-Day Cup. But with Wahab Riaz struggling to gain a visa, de Lange won a late call-up and has now made history - of sorts - by becoming the first person to take a five-for in the Hundred.
And quite an impression he made, too. Complementing his sharp pace - he reached 94mph/151kph at one stage - with good control and an ability to implement the plans set ahead of the game, he claimed three important wickets in his first 10 balls to ensure the Brave innings could never really gain any momentum.
After striking with his first ball - Delray Rawlins carving to cover - he went round the wicket to Colin de Grandhomme and, after a couple of short balls, bowled him round his legs with a full one as he moved across his stumps and looked to flick behind square. Devon Conway was then caught behind as he fished at one angled across him delivered with a cross-seam.
Generally, even the quickest bowlers need variations in limited-overs cricket. But the pace of the deliveries which took those wickets - 92.4mph, 92mph and 93mph respectively - tells a pretty accurate story of his spell: it was brutally, relentlessly, wonderfully fast. Those 10 balls cost just eight runs.
"The top wicket takers in the short formats are normally spinners and slower bowlers," he said. "But I feel like there is a time and a place for express pace. I tried to keep it simple and just do the basics well and it was a pitch that helped me today.
"I didn't expect to be involved in the competition until a couple of weeks ago but I just try to take opportunities whenever they come along."
He came back later for more. After having Chris Jordan, who has sometimes struggled against the short ball, taken on the deep backward square fence with a well-directed 89mph bouncer, he then completed the format's first five-for with a full, straight and fast one (91 mph) which bowled Garton. There was perhaps one slower ball in the entire 20.
The left Root
Is Joe Root an allrounder these days? Probably. He opened the bowling in the last World T20 final, after all, and claimed two wickets, including that of Chris Gayle, in his first over. He's recently taken a Test five-for (for just eight runs), too, and operated as England's lone spinner in their most recent Tests.
Certainly he made a valuable contribution to Trent Rockets' victory with his bowling here. Darting the ball in at a sharp pace - around 58mph at times - he sometimes cramped the batters for room and sometimes asked them to stretch for the ball. What he didn't allow was skipping down the pitch and hitting over long-off. Eighteen of his 20 deliveries were at Brave's plethora of top-order left-handers, and in all he conceded just 17 runs with nine dot-balls. Three of those runs were from wides and the only boundary came from a misfield.
Proving that he wasn't reliant upon left-handers, though, Root claimed a wicket with 50% of the deliveries he bowled at right-handers. Sure, that was only two balls. But in bowling Liam Dawson with his final ball, Root completed an excellent contribution.
Love it when a Malan comes together
However well Malan does - and as the world's top-rated T20 batter, he really has done very well - you feel he's only one poor innings from the questions about his place in the England team resurfacing. He sometimes takes a little while to get going, you see. And in the fast-paced world of T20 - or 100-ball - cricket, there isn't much time to smell the roses.
His critics will, therefore, suggest this innings taught us little. They will point out that the run rate was relatively undemanding and he had the time to play himself in as is his preferred method. And it's true, Rockets will rarely be required to score so few on so good a surface.
But in marshalling this chase with calm precision, Malan showed one of his many skills. It's not just that he has a good range of strokes; it's that he has the temperament which seems to adapt to the demands of the occasion. And his desire to take responsibility for scoring the winning runs really isn't such a bad quality for a batter.
Here, at least, he played a calm and expert hand. Despite taking a painful blow to the hand from Mills - which we may yet hear more about in the coming days, as it looked worryingly painful - he was quick to come forward to anything over-pitched and drove quite beautifully. And when Garton and Chris Jordan dropped short, they were pulled imperiously or uppercut respectively for sixes. With him at the crease, there was never much doubt about this result.
You're never more than about an hour from the latest missive - be it from the ECB or the broadcasters - informing you of record viewing figures at these games. Sometimes those figures are genuinely impressive; sometimes they are somewhat puzzling. The claim that Friday's match at Edgbaston set a record for the highest attendance for a women's domestic match outside London turned out to be inaccurate. It might, to be fair, have been the highest attendance at a professional women's match outside London.
But the attendance at the men's matches has been less impressive. The Kia Oval was not full on Thursday, for example. And it very often is for T20 games. And while Edgbaston's numbers on Friday were decent - at 12,137 they were below what they might be for a local derby but above what they might be for most other domestic games - the figure for this game of 12,783 was again only respectable. This is a ground on which T20 has tended to sell well for several years.
Is that good enough? Maybe. But, judging by the chants and songs - at one stage, the crowd attempted to get their own "Sweet Caroline" going - the much fabled new audience isn't quite as prevalent as you might have been told. And, contrary to what you might hear elsewhere, some kids have been seen previously at T20 Blast matches.
These games are attracting at least respectable attendances. And they're entertaining encounters. But they're not quite the miracle cure some would have you believe.