Despite Alex Hales scoring his first hundred of the season Notts Outlaws slumped to their third YB40 defeat of the campaign going down by 4 wickets to Sussex Sharks at Hove.
Hales scored 101, the fourth one-day ton of his career, and David Hussey added an unbeaten 82 as the visitors posted an impressive 290 for five.
Sussex had their own centurion to thank for getting them over the finishing line, as skipper Ed Joyce ended with 123 not out to steer his side to a four-wicket success, with 9 balls left unbowled.
“If you post 290 you shouldn’t lose." Mick Newell
The result, coupled with a victory for Northants Steelbacks, means that Notts now head Group A by one point, with one fixture remaining.
Director of Cricket Mick Newell was left feeling understandably low about the outcome.
“If you post 290 you shouldn’t lose”, he said.
“So we are very disappointed and it’s put all the pressure back on the final game.
“It was a good surface to bat on but we couldn’t contain them in the first 25 overs of their innings so we were playing catch up. We nearly pulled it back but not quite.”
Hales’ hundred was the first in one-day cricket by a Notts batsman at Hove but was no consolation to the opener.
“My 100 didn’t make a bit of difference in the end,” he said. “I’d have rather scored nought and we’d qualified than get runs and lose.
“I was quite happy with how I played,” he added. “It was a poor shot when I got out but sometimes these things happen in a powerplay. Fair play to Sussex’s batsmen who were too good for us tonight.”
Batting first after Chris Read won the toss, Notts made the worst possible start. Lewis Hatchett sent down a wide but his first legitimate delivery thudded into the pads of Michael Lumb (0).
James Taylor (9) was given a Sussex cap and tie before the start, after representing them versus the touring Australians last month. He scored a century on that occasion but only made 9 before edging Hatchett to slip, where Chris Jordan took a diving one-handed catch.
Samit Patel had an early scare as he nicked Jordan between ‘keeper and first slip for four but then batted beautifully as the pair brought up their fifty stand in just 6 overs.
Hales was severe on Jordan, hitting him for three consecutive boundaries on his way to a 43-ball half century.
The partnership moved into three figures in 16 overs before Sussex struck again. Patel (43) looked crestfallen as he pulled Chris LIddle straight into the hands of Luke Wright at fine leg.
Hales maintained the momentum, again treating Jordan harshly as he threatened to damage local property with a six that disappeared out of the ground over midwicket.
David Hussey manipulated the ball around the field nicely but nearly fell on 17 when a blisteringly hard drive was put down by Michael Yardy at cover.
In the 31st over Hales reached his century (87 balls 11x4 1x6) but then fell as the batting powerplay was taken, skying the ball to Rory Hamilton-Brown at long on, off Yardy.
Hussey, with new partner Riki Wessels, accelerated through the gears and the fielding side had little response as the pair added 81 in just 7 overs.
Wessels hit two maximums before falling for 34 from 24 balls.
Having brought up his own 50 (48 balls 5x4) he then kicked on to end with an unbeaten 82 from 64.
Joyce and Wright began the chase in positive manner, reaching 54-0 in six overs.
Wright hit three powerful maximums on his way to fifty, two off Patel and one off Ball and then hit Mullaney for another before departing for 62, caught by Wessels off Shahzad.
The setback didn’t unrail the Sussex charge because Matt Machan played a sumptuous innings of 51, adding 96 with his captain before chipping Hussey to square leg.
Joyce, meanwhile, moved to his hundred without too many alarms. Immediately after he’d celebrated his milestone, he lost another partner.
Chris Nash (12) had a fly-hack at Harry Gurney and Wessels took another well-judged catch on the off-side fence.
Shahzad threatened to turn the game on it’s head as he then removed both Yardy (8) and Hamilton-Brown (3) and could have had Joyce also, who was spiled by Patel on 111.
Steven Mullaney bowled Jordan (3) but Will Beer (20 not out) helped his captain to the finishing line.
The Outlaws have one remaining group match outstanding, an away trip to Canterbury to face Kent Spitfires on Monday 26th August.