Samit Patel’s career best bowling figures of four for 20 helped Notts Outlaws become the first side to qualify for this season’s NatWest T20 Blast Finals Day.
Defending a score of 162 for seven, the Outlaws were indebted to the slow left arm spin of Patel, plus the contributions of Steven Mullaney, two for 20, and Imran Tahir, one took for 24, as Essex were bowled out for 123 in 18.4 overs.
Jesse Ryder made 47 before being unluckily run out backing up but the middle order collapsed dramatically as all 10 wickets fell for only 58 in 11.3 overs, leaving Notts victorious by 39 runs.
Ryder scored his runs from 30 balls, with 10 fours but had to go as Mullaney diverted Nick Browne’s drive onto the stumps.
Earlier, Greg Smith top scored for the home side, with 50 but Notts struggled against Ryan ten Doeschate who picked up three for 19 from his four overs.
After winning their previous eight matches - all after batting second – Notts were forced into changing their game plan when Ravi Bopara won the toss for the Eagles and opted to bowl first. Michael Lumb made just 11 before edging Paul Walter to slip in the third over.
Riki Wessels, Notts leading scorer in this season’s competition, made 36 from 29 balls but perished to ten Doeschate’s first delivery; hoisting high into the wind on the leg side.
Smith was bowled by Bopara, a couple of balls after reaching his half century but it was ten Doeschate who struck further blows by dismissing two danger men in Dan Christian and Samit Patel
Christian, the Outlaws’ skipper, was uncharacteristically out of sorts and made 21 from 20 balls before being bowled. Patel fell in the penultimate over, caught on the midwicket boundary for 23.
Chris Read added a useful 12 in the final over, which saw Luke Wood fall for a duck on his T20 debut, caught in the deep by ten Doeschate, to give Graham Napier a second wicket.
Ryder and Nick Browne put on 65 in seven overs but once the first wicket had fallen, the Eagles fell away as the Outlaws’ slower bowlers dominated the middle overs.
Patel took three wickets in four deliveries as Browne, Tom Westley and Ashar Zaidi struggled with the pressure. Zaidi had hit his first ball for six but holed out off his next.
Imran Tahir dismissed Bopara and then Mullaney removed Dan Lawrence, batting with a runner after tweaking a handicap in the field, and Napier. With 41 left required from two overs Harry Gurney sealed Notts’ place at Edgbaston with the wickets of James Foster and Paul Walter.
Having lost their previous four home quarter finals Notts can now look forward to their third trip to T20 Finals Day.
Patel said: “It’s a relief for everybody here to get through to Finals Day. We knew this was a big game for us. We always pinpoint trophies at the start of the year and we want to win as many as we can. We know we’ve got work to do in the Championship but hopefully this will give us a bit of momentum.
“We thought ours was a reasonable total but we knew we had to do everything right to stay in the game and win it and I thought we did that outstandingly well . We knew we had to squeeze them, we had a bit of luck but we did what we had to do.
“This is why you play cricket, why you turn up for pre-season but we haven’t won anything yet, we know we’ll have to turn up for the semi final and be on our game, whoever we play.”