Trent Rockets181 for 4 (Hales 59, Malan 38) beat Oval Invincibles 156 for 5 (Cox 61*, Shamsi 2-21) by 25 runs
After Rockets were put in, Malan had the six counter ticking from ball four but spent the next 40 largely admiring his teammate as Hales delivered an extraordinary display of his clean hitting skills.
Hales, who survived an lbw review first ball, took a particular liking to Sam Curran, plundering three of his four maximums off the left-hander, whom he hammered for 20 runs in one set of five. He had gone past 10,000 career short-format runs in the previous set and looked unstoppable. His fourth six – off Sydney Thunder teammate Mohammad Hasnain – sailed over the roof of the Fox Road stand and into the Nottingham night as his fifty came up off just 22 balls.
But after he’d gone for 59, picking out the fielder on the midwicket boundary as Hasnain took his revenge, Rockets lost some momentum and it needed Gregory and Munro’s enterprise at the death to set the Invincibles a testing chase.
In between, Malan’s 29-ball 38 had ended when Jason Roy grabbed a very low catch in the covers that needed an umpire review to confirm, Tom Kohler-Cadmore miscued to point and Daniel Sams flicked one straight to deep square leg.
The test facing the visitors soon became bigger still. Will Jacks was fresh from his brilliant unbeaten 108 not out last time out but Sam Cook had his number on this occasion, denied his wicket on an lbw review in his first set and watching him survive a top-edged pull before bowling him with a perfect yorker.
Roy at least avoided another duck but on 20 from 17 ran into a ripper from Shamsi that knocked back his leg stump. Shamsi had Billings leg before with one that fizzed through three balls later.
Curran built himself a start but perished for 27, getting away with a steepler that Tom Moores inexplicably spilled only for the wicketkeeper to redeem himself next ball with a stumping that won instant forgiveness from bowler Samit Patel.
It wasn’t the best of nights in the field for the Rockets, with Cox shelled at short third on 32 and Sunil Narine on 16 by the ‘keeper – a difficult one this time – in the same Luke Wood over, but with 66 needed from 20 balls despite Narine launching a free hit over the rope at wide long on, the winning line looked too far away for the Invincibles, despite Cox hitting three sixes.