Lancashire became the first side to confirm their place in the semi-finals of the Clydesdale Bank 40 with a hard-fought win over Gloucestershire at Bristol. Elsewhere, Sussex, Hampshire, Kent, Warwickshire and Somerset all recorded wins.
Lancashire confirmed themselves as Group A winners with an 18-run win in a low-scoring match against Gloucestershire at Bristol. They made a modest 182 for nine from their 40 overs as Ed Young strangled their middle-order with three for 25, but Glen Chapple took five for 26, including three of the first four to fall, to help bowl the Gladiators out for just 164.
The Netherlands ended their encouraging Clydesdale Bank 40 campaign with a crushing loss to Essex at Colchester. Ravi Bopara returned from his personal problems and made just one for the Eagles while batting, although he did take three wickets to help bowl the Dutch out for 197. However, it was Harbhajan Singh who did the bulk of the damage with the ball, taking five for 37 to follow up some good work with the bat from Tom Westley (59 off 40 balls), Ryan ten Doeschate (52 off 46) and James Foster (79 off 48).
Leicestershire won their dead-rubber match against Worcestershire by two wickets at New Road. The home side made 223 for nine after being asked to bat as slow left-arm spinner James Sykes impressed, taking two for 18 from his eight overs. Foxes captain Josh Cobb hit 51 in their run chase, but it was Ned Eckersley who played the telling innings. He hit seven sixes and ended with a career-best 72 not out off 44 balls.
In Group B, Hampshire all but booked their place in the semi-finals with a four-wicket win over Surrey in Southampton. Kevin Pietersen fell to the left-arm spin of Liam Dawson for a first ball duck on his cricketing return as Surrey were restricted to 175 for nine, with Zander de Bruyn’s 57 the highest score. In reply, Michael Carberry made 54 and the Royals got home with almost two overs to spare.
An injury-hit Somerset continued to defy the odds and beat Scotland to move up to second in Group B. Journeyman seamer Robert Mutch, who had been called up at short notice from their second XI, took two wickets, while Abdur Rehman and Steve Kirby also took a brace apiece. The Saltires were bowled out for just 163 and Somerset had reached 133 for three in the 23rd over when rain forced a permanent halt. They were declared winners by 53 runs on the Duckworth Lewis method.
Durham’s hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals were dealt a severe blow by a 43-run defeat to Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge. Michael Lumb and Chris Read both made rapid half-centuries for the Outlaws in their total of 294 for eight. Mark Stoneman hit 102 off only 92 balls in the Dynamos’ reply, but they were all out for 251 in the penultimate over as Andy Carter and Steven Mullaney shared seven wickets.
Kent moved up to second in Group C thanks to their five-wicket win over Northamptonshire at Wantage Road. The Steelbacks made 232 for nine from their 40 overs as Alex Wakely and Christian Davis both passed 50, but that was, in the end, easily overhauled by Kent. After a shaky start, they got home thanks to an unbroken sixth-wicket partnership of 107 between Brendan Nash (70 not out off 52 balls) and Geraint Jones (52 not out off 45 balls).
Warwickshire eased past the Unicorns by 10 wickets at Wormsley. William Porterfield ended on 100 not out, while Varun Chopra ended on 73 as the Bears comfortably overhauled the Unicorns’ total of 185. It could have been much worse for the nominal home side had last man Paul Hindmarch not hit 50 off 49 balls.
Sussex won a thrilling game at Headingley off the final ball to keep their semi-final hopes alive. They were set 207 to win from 28 overs following a lengthy rain delay and looked to be cruising at 104 for one. However, Chris Nash fell for 53 and Ed Joyce followed for 54 shortly afterwards as Yorkshire fought back. Will Beer and Amjad Khan, though, played superbly and added 22 off only nine balls for the eighth-wicket to see them home against the odds.
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