Dramatic finish as Kent Spitfires chase down Notts Outlaws 336 in Royal London Cup
Kent Spitfires pulled off a stunning run chase to defeat Notts Outlaws at Trent Bridge to keep their hopes alive in the Royal London One-Day Cup.
Set to score 336, they were seen to a five wicket victory by Sam Billings, who made 118 not out and shared in a match-winning sixth wicket stand of 133 with Alex Blake, who hit the winning six to close on an undefeated 50.
Billings scored his runs from 89 balls, hitting 12 fours and three maximums to turn the tables on the previously unbeaten group leaders.
The Spitfires reached their target with eight balls to spare, having been set on their way by half centuries from Daniel Bell-Drummond and Fabian Cowdrey.
Bell-Drummond made 73 before chopping on from Brett Hutton, who returned figures of three for 72 and Cowdrey scored 51 from 49 balls.
Earlier, Notts Outlaws posted 335 but their innings ended in bizarre circumstances as their last six wickets fell for the addition of only 4 runs, in the space of just 10 deliveries.
The home side were bowled out for 335, having been put in, with four balls of their innings remaining unused. James Taylor led the way with 109, making his runs from 111 balls faced and having hit four fours and four sixes.
With Alex Hales scoring 81 and Dan Christian blasting 59, a total in excess of 300 was always likely but the closing overs featured an unlikely collapse as Matt Coles collected a hat-trick, on his way to taking three for 54.
Billings had arrived at the crease in the 22nd over and went after his shots from the off, reaching his 50 from 49 balls and his hundred from 76.
With Blake offering stoic support, the required run rate dropped to below six per over and it was left to Blake to muscle the winning runs as he put Luke Fletcher over the ropes to reach his own half century from 39 deliveries.
Earlier in the day Riki Wessels made 41 out of an opening stand of 84 but his departure paved the way for Alex Hales and James Taylor to apply pressure to the Spitfires’ attack.
Hales reached his 50 from 53 balls and celebrated by lofting James Tredwell into the Trent Bridge pavilion for six. The opener eventually picked out short extra cover, after a second wicket stand of 96.
Christian launched a delivery from Claydon high over midwicket and out of the ground on his way to a 30-ball half century.
Taylor brought up his hundred from 105 deliveries, a fine effort that included just four fours but also four sixes.
The last few moments of the innings bordered on the farcical as the Outlaws slipped from 331 for four to 335 all out, within the space of 10 deliveries.
Christian’s belligerent knock ended when he picked out Joe Denly on the midwicket fence from the fifth ball of Coles’ ninth over.
Having crossed, James Taylor then drilled the next delivery straight back into the bowler’s midriff for a reflex caught and bowled.
Steven Mullaney and Hutton both fell without scoring in the penultimate over, leaving Coles to get his hat-trick by bowling Luke Fletcher at the start of the last. Jake Ball then set off for a non-existent run to the next delivery, allowing Coles to run him out.
The defeat means that Notts still have work to do in order to finish on top of Group B and breaks their run of ten straight wins in all competitions.
They finish their qualifying programme on Wednesday when they face Hampshire at home, whilst Kent Spitfires will look to cement a place in the quarter finals when they travel to Edgbaston to face Warwickshire Bears.
Notts’ James Taylor said: “I thought our batting was exceptional for 46 overs but the way we finished out innings cost us massively.
“Even if we’d just scored an extra 15 or so I think it would have taken us out of Kent’s reach, the way we bowled.
“But you have to put your hands up and say well played to Sam Billings; it was an exceptional knock and he put us under pressure throughout.”