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Patel gets Outlaws off to a flier
Samit Patel was delighted to be the crowd-pleaser at Trent Bridge where 11,000 saw his all-round contribution help Nottinghamshire begin their NatWest t20 Blast campaign with victory over Lancashire.
On an opening night which brought close finishes elsewhere - notably Sussex's Yasir Arafat-inspired win over Surrey at Hove - the Patel-powered Outlaws ruled Nottingham.
Patel hit 56 out of 182 for five; then he added two for 25 with his left-arm spin as Steven Mullaney took three for 46 against his old club in the Lancastrians' 149 all out - despite Jordan Clark's defiant 44 from only 20 balls in the North Division clash.
Patel insisted afterwards that the home crowd played a significant part too.
"They were absolutely brilliant tonight - and if we can put a show on every game like that then I hope they will keep coming through the door," he told www.trentbridge.co.uk.
"It's a huge difference when you play in front of a crowd like that. Lads like myself, (Alex) Hales, (Michael) Lumb and (James) Taylor thrive off it - and it makes us play better."
There were only half as many in the stands at Headingley, where Ben Duckett held his nerve to ensure Northamptonshire launched the defence of their title with a thrilling three-wicket win over Yorkshire.
Steelbacks highlights were four for 25 on debut from New Zealand seamer Ian Butler and a brutal 43 at the top of the order from David Willey - hero of last summer's Edgbaston final against Surrey - before Duckett finally outdid Yorkshire's hard-working collective.
Liam Plunkett and Tim Bresnan's 54-run stand, from a very wobbly 87 for six, made a match of it by rescuing 162 for seven for Yorkshire.
It was ultimately insufficient but confirmed only off the penultimate ball, when Graeme White struck the only delivery he faced past point for four off Ryan Sidebottom to get Northants home - with Duckett unbeaten on a career-best 39.
Durham were also winners thanks to an unbeaten 80 from Scotland batsman Calum MacLeod on debut for his new county.
He hit seven fours and two sixes from 56 balls, veteran Paul Collingwood adding 62 in a fourth-wicket stand of 113, as Durham posted 173 for four despite a sticky start at home to Worcestershire.
Debutant opener Richard Oliver made 43 in the run chase, but the visitors were all out for 144 - Collingwood completing a fine all-round performance with three for 29.
Leicestershire began with a 27-run win at home to Derbyshire, despite veteran Australian batsman Marcus North's 90 from only 47 balls.
North hit six sixes and six fours but found precious little support, in pursuit of a total of 197 for four in which evergreen New Zealander Scott Styris (63no) top-scored.
Nathan Buck took three for 26 for Leicestershire.
The match of the night in the South Division came between Sussex and Surrey at Hove, where the hosts beat last year's finalists off the final ball after Arafat hit successive fours at the end of Jade Dernbach's over against one of his old clubs.
Jason Roy (57) and Gary Wilson (50) both made half-centuries in Surrey's 171 for seven - slow left-armer Ashar Zaidi taking three for 32.
Then Luke Wright brought his fine championship form into the sprint format, with 56 from just 31 balls - before Ben Brown and Arafat's late surge did the trick.
Somerset's Australian left-armer Dirk Nannes (four for 21) won the battle of the seamers with Gloucestershire's James Fuller (four for 32) as the visitors edged the west-country derby at Bristol.
Half-centuries from Craig Kieswetter (55) and Alviro Petersen (51) took Somerset to 156 for eight, and then Hamish Marshall (54) could not lift Gloucestershire above 138 all out.
Leg-spinner Max Waller also picked up three for 22 for Somerset.
At Southampton, Glamorgan mustered 161 for seven against Hampshire - for whom left-arm spinner Danny Briggs took three for 26.
It proved 10 runs too many for the hosts, seamer Will Owen finishing with three for 32.