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Hales sets up Notts last-four berth

Alex Hales hit a match-winning 74 as Notts Outlaws beat Kent Spitfires by five wickets at Canterbury to top Yorkshire Bank 40 Group A and earn themselves a home semi-final.

Hales and Samit Patel, who scored 59, put together the decisive partnership of 107 in 22 overs as the visitors overhauled Kent's 195 for six with 10 balls to spare.

Michael Lumb also helped to give the Notts reply a confident start with 28 from 23 balls before being stumped off a leg-side wide from Mark Davies in the seventh over, with the total on 42.

James Taylor could make only six in a scratchy 18-ball stay before being caught at the wicket off the accurate Davies, who bowled his eight new-ball overs straight through for figures of 2-33.

But Hales and Patel, who came together at 57 for two, were more than equal to the task of guiding Notts to victory, which gives them the chance of silverware at the end of an often frustrating season.

Hales included only three fours in a 55-ball half-century but kept the scoreboard ticking despite a sluggish surface, which made expansive strokeplay difficult, and Patel also worked the ball around expertly to reach his fifty from 60 balls to negate the efforts of a Kent attack in which James Tredwell did his best in a losing cause with an eight-over stint of 1-31.

Patel fell in the 33rd over, clubbing Tredwell to long-on after a 70-ball innings, which included four fours and a driven six off Adam Riley, while a fine throw from deep square-leg by Adam Ball finally sent back Hales in the 36th over, the England Twenty20 batsman run out after facing 90 balls and hitting four fours.

Riki Wessels lofted Darren Stevens to deep midwicket on nine but David Hussey finished the match in style by straight-driving Ball for six to end on 19 not out.

Sam Northeast, driving loosely on two, edged Harry Gurney to second slip in the second over of Kent's innings but the home side, who won the toss, were steadied by Rob Key and Brendan Nash during a partnership of 76 in 18 overs.

Key's 62-ball 41 ended when he was beaten by a ball from part-time off-spinner Hussey that moved the other way up the Canterbury slope to take the edge of his defensive bat on its way into wicketkeeper Chris Read's gloves.

Nash made 47 off 66 deliveries before skying an attempted pull at Jake Ball to mid-on and Stevens' bright 27 from 32 balls came to a disappointing end for the predominantly Kent-supporting 4,500 crowd when he holed out to Steven Mullaney at long-off, trying to hit Patel's left-arm spin for six.

Kent stumbled to 135 for five when Geraint Jones was hit on the boot by a full delivery from Patel and leg-before for one but youngsters Fabian Cowdrey and Ball hit out defiantly for a stand of 39 in five overs to boost the home total.

Ball had just reached 22 with successive fours off Ajmal Shahzad, over extra-cover and swung to midwicket, when he skied to wide mid-off, but Cowdrey produced some more inventive strokes to finish unbeaten on 39 off 48 balls.

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