Notts Outlaws’ hold on the Vitality Blast trophy hangs by a thread after a six-wicket defeat to Birmingham Bears at Edgbaston.
The holders were handed their sixth defeat of the North Group campaign by a Bears team which remains in the qualification race thanks to a solid bowling display backed up by batting fireworks from Ian Bell and Colin de Grandhomme.
Put in, Notts totalled 152 for eight with only Samit Patel (41, 39 balls, five fours) lasting more than 20 balls against a well-drilled attack led by Black caps pair Grant Elliott (4-0-26-1) and Jeetan Patel (4-0-28-2) with good support from Olly Hannon Dalby (4-0-30-3).
When Birmingham were 63 for three in reply, the game was evenly poised but Bell (54, 37 balls, three fours, two sixes) and De Grandhomme (49 not out, 28 balls, one four, five sixes) added 79 in 46 balls to turn the pursuit into a cruise. Victory arrived with 22 balls to spare.
The Bears will travel to Lancashire Lightning tomorrow with qualification hopes still alive, though with still no margin for error in their last three games, a situation which also applies to Notts, starting at home to Yorkshire tomorrow.
The Outlaws struggled early on as spinner Jeetan Patel opened from the Pavilion End with a spell of 3-0-17-2. After Rikki Wessels lifted Hannon-Dalby to Adam Hose at deep square leg, Patel had Tom Moores caught by Hose at long off then bowled Alex Hales (20, 14 balls) through a misjudged pull.
That left the Outlaws 27 for three in the fourth over but Samit Patel and Steven Mullaney rebuilt with a stand of 52 in 42 balls before the latter (24, 16 balls) hoisted Hannon-Dalby to long on.
Patel’s polished innings ended when he lifted Aaron Thomason to mid-on. Dan Christian soon became Elliott’s 17th victim of the Blast campaign and though Jake Libby (21 not out, 16 balls) and Billy Root (17, 14 balls) landed some blows in a seventh-wicket stand of 36 in four overs, the Outlaws came in looking well under par.
Ed Pollock launched the Bears’ reply with two sixes in the first over but he and Hose sent up skiers and then an excellent over from Mullaney cost just one run and brought the wicket of Hain, caught in the deep.
But Bell motored classily on, passing 500 Blast runs for the season with a six pulled over mid-wicket of Ish Sodhi, and De Grandhomme was soon peppering the stands with big hits to the delight of the majority in another big Edgbaston crowd.