An unbeaten half century from Samit Patel helped Notts Outlaws strengthen their lead at the top of the North Group of the NatWest T20 Blast competition.

Patel scored 77 from just 48 balls, adding 96 for the fourth wicket with Brendan Taylor, who made 36, as the Outlaws chased down a victory target of 181 to win by five wickets, with 11 balls to spare.

Sam Hain ensured the Bears put a competitive total on the board, making an undefeated 82 out of a total of 180 for seven.

Hain, who scored 92 not out in the corresponding match last season, scored his runs from 50 balls, with eight fours and three sixes. Jake Ball was the pick of the Outlaws attack, taking career best figures of three for 27.

When Notts began their run chase they lost the competition’s leading run-scorer in the opening over, as Alex Hales fell first ball for nought.

The powerful stroke-maker, who had rattled up 445 runs in his previous 10 innings this season, checked his drive against Oliver Stone and picked out Ian Bell at mid-off.

Stone struck for a second time as Tom Moores sliced to point in the third over and when Riki Wessels lofted Jeetan Patel to wide long-on, Notts were 43 for three in the fourth over and in need of a partnership.

Samit Patel and Taylor joined forces. and combined effectively, to take their side to within 42 of the finishing line before Oliver Hannon-Dalby removed Taylor and Dan Christian, in quick succession.

Steven Mullaney eased any home concerns by hitting Grant Elliott for a six and two fours in his unbeaten 15, leaving Patel to pull Colin de Grandhomme for the winning boundary at the start of the 19th over.

Earlier, Birmingham were thrust firmly on the back foot after losing four wickets in the opening six overs, three of them to Jake Ball.

The fast bowler, working his way back to full fitness after the knee injury which ruled him out of the Royal London One-Day Cup Final and the South Africa Test series, was almost unplayable as he decimated the visitors’ top order.

Dominic Sibley hit Ball straight to Samit Patel at mid-off, Adam Hose top-edged behind and Elliott lost his middle stump.

Bell survived a run out scare when Patel threw down the stumps but only made 11 before clipping Christian down the legside and into the hands of Moores.

Ish Sodhi removed fellow Kiwi de Grandhomme, who picked out the safe hands of Alex Hales in the deep.

That dismissal left the Bears on 67 for five but Hain and Aaron Thomason rebuilt the innings with a stand of 69 in just seven overs.

Hain’s 50 came from 32 balls but he lost his partner soon afterwards as Thomason, who hit three sixes in his 42 hit all around a top spinner from Sodhi and was comprehensively bowled.

Christian thought he’d removed Hain when Taylor took a boundary catch but the fielder had to release the ball as he toppled over the rope.

The bowler did have a second success to celebrate as Alex Mellor sliced to third man but Gurney went for a huge six in the final over as the Bears reached 180.

The victory takes Notts Outlaws up to 16 points, two clear in the North Group, with two matches remaining in the qualifying stages.

They can secure a place in the knock-out phase with victory at New Road, against Worcestershire Rapids on Sunday.

Birmingham remain on 13 points, also with two matches remaining.