Cricket: Hussain atones for his lapses

Nottinghamshire 288-5 Essex 289-7 Essex win by 3 wickets
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The Independent Online
A most sensible and disciplined innings by Nasser Hussain, who made 89 not out in 47 overs, made sure that Essex advanced to the semi-finals of the NatWest Trophy after the middle order batsmen had rather lost their way. Earlier, Nottinghamshire had not quite capitalised on an outstanding century from their captain, Paul Johnson.

On a typical Trent Bridge pitch which was full of runs and ideal for a one-day match, Essex were given a thunderous start by their Queenslander, Stuart Law, whose 49 included 11 fours and came from only 33 balls.

He drove Andy Oram for three glorious fours, and handed out the same treatment to Kevin Evans, but then, after looking as if he might win the match for Essex before tea, he pulled Paul Franks in the 12th and was extremely well caught by Johnson at midwicket.

Laws' opening partnership with Paul Prichard was worth 81 and after this furious start, Essex were never likely to fall behind the required rate. It was as well for them, though, that Hussain was content from the start to play something of an anchor role and to stay on to make his highest score in any match for Essex this season.

After Prichard had been bowled by Oram, Ronnie Irani was lbw driving across the line, Paul Grayson top edged a pull and Danny Law was caught off a skier off Chris Tolley, the best of the Nottinghamshire bowlers. Darren Robinson then steered Franks straight to mid-wicket and Robert Rollins, after hitting Franks for a six and two fours, was bowled in an over which produced 17 runs.

In the final equation, Essex needed 27 from six overs and Ashley Cowan, surviving a hard catch at midwicket when two, helped Hussain take them to victory with 10 balls to spare.

Nottinghamshire had also been given a good start. When Tim Robinson and Johnson were together in a second-wicket stand of 91 in 15 overs, they looked to be heading for more than 300. After Robinson had been second out, bowled off his pads at 126, the last 13 overs before lunch produced only 37 runs.

After the interval, Johnson rediscovered his fluency and played some splendid strokes through the covers and off his legs. He was well supported by Nathan Astle before he was thrown out by Hussain from cover.

Earlier, Hussain had, remarkably, dropped three catches, Johnson twice and Robinsononce. Johnson reached his 100 in 116 balls with 10 fours before being bowled hitting across the line at Stuart Law and the remaining batsman found it difficult to get the ball away, so Nottinghamshire were left 30 runs short.