"You'd imagine he'll be looking to go the aerial route"— Nottinghamshire CCC (@TrentBridge) August 29, 2020
Joe Clarke, the fourth Outlaws T20 centurion, blasts the Green and Golds to victory. pic.twitter.com/yzoaDuhRbQ
Nottinghamshire 185 for 4 (Clarke 100*, Nash 55) beat Durham 181 for 3 (Lees 53, Clark 60) by six wickets
A brilliant unbeaten century from Joe Clarke guided Nottinghamshire to their first victory of the 2020 season, defeating Durham by six wickets in their Vitality Blast North Group clash at Emirates Riverside.
Clarke made the most of his opportunity after being dropped on eight by Graham Clark. From that point onwards the right-hander was flawless, sharing a stand of 105 for the second wicket with Chris Nash that whittled down their victory target of 182.
The 24-year-old cleared the rope eight times and scored seven fours, dismantling the home side's bowling attack. He ended the chase with a maximum to notch his second T20 century from only 44 balls, taking his team over the line with 3.4 overs to spare.
Durham had set what appeared to be a challenging total as Clark and Alex Lees scored half-centuries, but they were blown away by the visitors to slump to their second defeat in the competition.
The hosts won the toss and Lees made a strong start, dispatching Samit Patel straight back down the ground for a six. Luke Fletcher made an early breakthrough to dismiss Scott Steel, but Clark put the home side back on track in the Powerplay. He dispatched Jake Ball for three fours in the fifth over, including two fine shots through backward point.
Clark and Lees took the attack to Matthew Carter as both men cleared the rope against the offspinner, propelling their way towards the fifty partnership from 31 deliveries. The batsmen kept steadily building the Durham innings before Clark upped the ante. The right-hander smashed Fletcher into the top tier of the County Durham stand to bring up the 100 before clearing the rope once more with a powerful flick over the leg-side boundary.
Lees was the first batsman to reach fifty, nudging a single into the leg side to bring up the milestone from 39 balls before Clark followed suit reaching his eighth T20 half-century. The two players recorded Durham's highest stand for the second wicket against the Outlaws, putting on 105. It took a brilliant diving catch to end Lees' knock for 53 from Nash at third man after the left-hander sliced a wide delivery from Steven Mullaney.
Ball then got a semblance of revenge against Clark by bowling him around his legs for 60 to stymie the Durham innings. Paul Coughlin and Brydon Carse injected pace in the 17th over, both striking maximums off Mullaney, and in the final over, Carse added two further boundaries to bring up the fifty stand for the fourth wicket and set the Outlaws a chase of 182.
Nottinghamshire set the tone with a brisk start to their reply, although Matty Potts made a vital breakthrough to remove Alex Hales. Clarke pulled Coughlin over the fence to get his innings into gear, although he was given a life from the following ball after being dropped by Clark at short cover.
Nash led the early assault against the Durham attack, which allowed the visitors to bring the fifty up in the fifth over. Clarke looked in excellent touch, smashing Potts over his head for a maximum before adding another boundary later in the over to bring up the fifty partnership for the second wicket. The 24-year-old then launched Rimmington for his third six of the innings to send the Outlaws past the 100-run mark before he reached his half-century from 26 balls.
The onslaught from Nottinghamshire continued courtesy of Nash with his 27-ball fifty, clearing the rope to bring up the milestone and the century stand between himself and Clarke. A loose drive to Rimmington at point ended Nash's innings for 55, but Clarke did not let up his intensity, dispatching Potts for three sixes in the 13th over.
He finished off the game in style with his eighth six to reach three figures for the second time against Durham and secure the Outlaws' first victory of the campaign.
"Obviously getting the win is the main thing, but on a personal level it's always nice to start a tournament with a hundred," Clarke said. "In cricket you get more bad days than good. To get the win and a personal performance makes it all the sweeter.
"I went out there to put the pressure on the bowlers. We bat so deep into our order I was trying to make the most out of the first six overs. Luckily it just kept coming off for me. Getting a T20 hundred is special and to get another one is a great feeling - joining the three other lads who've got a hundred for Notts."