Joe Clarke struck a brutal 57 off 27 and Steven Mullaney claimed three wickets, but Notts Outlaws were defeated by two wickets in a final over thriller against Leicestershire Foxes.

On a glorious evening at Grace Road, the Outlaws had first use of the pitch and posted 173 all out, as the returning pair of Clarke and Ben Duckett (45 off 27) made the top two scores.

Calvin Harrison was then instrumental with the ball for Notts, taking the crucial wickets of Josh Inglis (42 off 19) and Arron Lilley (42 off 23), but in a nail-biting end, Naveen-ul-Haq struck four to see the Foxes home.

Earlier, the Outlaws’ start was full of confidence and thoroughly belied the fact they had been put in to bat, as Joe Clarke punched Callum Parkinson’s opening delivery through the covers for four.

Alex Hales followed suit off Naveen-ul-Haq in the next over, but the opening stand came to an end when Hales picked out Arron Lilley off the spin of home captain Colin Ackermann for 15, leaving the Outlaws 24 for one.

However, that took no impetus out of the batting of Clarke, who continued to massacre the home attack, striking Gavin Griffiths for two sixes in the fifth over and Naveen for three fours in the sixth.

He reached his half-century from 24 deliveries after two more sixes off Ben Mike, but fell shortly afterwards in identical fashion to Hales, finding Lilley at deep midwicket off Ackermann.

That left Duckett with the task of taking up the mantle, and he did so with aplomb, guiding the Outlaws past three figures alongside Tom Moores.

He struck Callum Parkinson for successive fours to advance the total to 134 for three, before the Foxes spinner pinned him lbw, and when captain Mullaney also departed, the Outlaws were in need of stability.

They found that in Patel, who kept his cool for his 26 off 23 and guided Notts through to the final over, where, accompanied by a lusty blow from Dane Paterson, they passed 170 before the innings was brought to a close.

Following the early removal of Rishi Patel by Dane Paterson, caught at backward square leg by Ben Duckett, Inglis began the chase in explosive fashion.

He hoisted three maximums, but his cameo was brief as it was brutal, as the introduction of Harrison proved the turning point, with the leg spinner seeing Inglis held by Hales and Lilley stumped in successive overs.

From 78 for one midway through the seventh, the Foxes were 107 for three at halfway, and things took an even more interesting turn when Mullaney removed his counterpart Ackermann to leave them 133 for five.

However, a steady partnership of 23 between Louis Kimber and Lewis Hill, both of whom made 14, ensured Leicestershire remained in the hunt, and the scoreboard kept ticking over.

The equation entering the final three overs read as the hosts needing 19 with five wickets in hand, but the pendulum again swung back as Mullaney removed both Kimber and Hill to leave the score 157 for seven.

It fell to Zak Chappell to bowl the final over, with the Foxes needing six to win, and although he removed Callum Parkinson, Naveen struck the crushing blow to send the game the Foxes’ way with two balls to spare.

The Outlaws will now look ahead to Sunday’s final group stage match, at home to Durham, and beyond that, to another home quarter-final.