Notts Outlaws secured qualification for the semi finals of the Yorkshire Bank 40 competition with a 5-wicket win over Kent Spitfires at Canterbury.
The home side made 195 for six, a total that the Outlaws reached with ten deliveries remaining after Alex Hales (74) and Samit Patel (59) had shared in a punishing third wicket stand of 107.
Hales’ performance earned him the man of the match award and he was understandably delighted. “We’ve had to do it the hard way really, after losing our last couple of matches,” he said. “But we’re in the semi final. It was a good all-round team performance but the bowlers can take a lot of credit. They way they set the game up, the y made it a much easier job for the batsmen.”
Skipper Chris Read was pleased with how his side had found the necessary resolve to secure the semi final berth. “The most pleasing thing is the nature of our performance,” he said. “We’d put ourselves under pressure to perform and we go away knowing that we’ve done and are through to a semi final.”
The draw pitted Notts with a home tie against old foes, Somerset, an encounter that the Outlaws needn’t fear, according to Mick Newell, the director of cricket. “We’ve beaten them before in 40 overs cricket and there’s no reason not to be confident going into that match. Hopefully we’ll have a good crowd cheering us on, now we’re one step from a Lord’s Final.”
After twice missing their opportunity of clinching the group, with defeats against Worcestershire and Sussex, the Outlaws went into the must-win contest with an unchanged starting eleven.
In gloriously hot, sunny, conditions Kent began after winning the toss with Rob Key and Sam Northeast opening for the home side.
It took only nine deliveries for Notts to separate the pair, Samit Patel clutching on to a fierce edge to remove Northeast (2), off Gurney’s bowling.
Brendan Nash joined Key and the pair were held in check until the end of the powerplay overs, with only a score of 28-1.
Key twice used his feet to lift Patel down the ground for boundaries and survived a huge scare before eventually being dismissed.
On 41 a Riki Wessels throw from the deep hit the stumps at the non-strikers end but the Kent opener was spared, only to fall in the next over as he nicked David Hussey to Chris Read.
Darren Stevens joined Nash with a need to increase the tempo but the Outlaws attack remained accurate and disciplined on a very flat surface.
The pair added 33 but both fell rather tamely, Nash (47) lofted Jake Ball to Hussey and Stevens (27) was similarly accurate in picking out Mullaney, off Patel.
Patel’s left-arm spin accounted for Geraint Jones (1) as he walked across his crease and was sent on his way lbw by umpire Ian Gould.
There were then some Ball to Ball exchanges as Kent’s Adam Ball came out to face his namesake, the returning Jake.
Adam batted positively in reaching 22 before clipping Shahzad to Patel in the covers.
Fabian Cowdrey, whose first six deliveries provided Steven Mullaney with the only maiden of the innings, ended on 39 not out but Kent’s total looked below par.
Michael Lumb and Alex Hales began with their usual positive intent and put 42 on inside the first seven overs before they were parted.
Lumb (28), having hit five boundaries, was stumped down the leg side by Jones, standing up to Mark Davies.
The same combination also accounted for James Taylor, caught attempting a cut shot.
Patel and Hales rotated the strike efficiently and without alarm as the opener passed fifty for the fifth time in this season’s competition (55 balls 3x4).
His partner hit the first maximum of the day, hoisting Adam Riley over the ropes at long on, on the way to reaching his own half century (60 balls 4x4, 1x6).
The pair added 107 in 22 overs to take Notts to within 32 of the finishing line but Patel then perished in the batting powerplay, lofting Tredwell into the hands of sub fielder Ben Harmison.
Hussey joined Hales to take Notts close but then the opener succumbed to an accurate throw from the deep to depart run out for an excellent 74.
Riki Wessels made a quick nine but holed out with a boundary needed – and it was left to Hussey (19 not out) to hit a straight six to kickstart the celebrations in the away dressing room.