Eagles Soar On Rainy Day
All the matches in the North Group and the Midlands/West/Wales Group were unsurprisingly abandoned without a ball bowled as the heavy band of rain that was in place across England throughout the day caused many of the outfields to be partially flooded.
Those matches in the South Group fared considerably better, with Middlesex winning a thrilling last-over encounter over Surrey at The Oval. The Panthers required only three runs to win off the final over with three wickets in hand, but two wickets from Dirk Nannes made that equation look less attainable. However, last man Tom Smith held his nerve and hit the penultimate ball for four to seal the win with one wicket and one ball to spare. Neil Dexter had laid the foundations for what proved ultimately to be a successful run chase with a calm 34-ball 41, while Ollie Wilkin added some momentum with a 18-ball 28.
Earlier, Kevin Pietersen had finally found form at the fourth attempt for Surrey and top-scored with a run-a-ball 42 as they made 154 for four from their 20 overs. He added 76 for the first wicket with Steve Davies (37 from 30 balls) and 31 for the second wicket with Jason Roy (40 from 26).
Essex kept their hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals alive – and in doing so ended Kent’s – with a commanding performance at Canterbury. They made 149 for five from their 20 overs after being inserted by Rob Key – a total that was built largely around a second-wicket partnership of 98 between Mark Pettini – who made his second half-century in as many matches – and Greg Smith (32 from 36 balls). Darren Stevens was the stand-out Kent bowler, taking three for 13 with his medium-pace dobbers.
Reece Topley and David Masters shared five wickets in the home side’s run chase and helped restrict them to 126 for nine with Geraint Jones top-scoring with an unbeaten 24.
The other match in the South Group, that at Southampton between Sussex and Hampshire, was abandoned just before the end of the visitors’ innings. They had raced to 203 for five by the time the rain arrived, with Matt Prior striking a quite sublime 81 from 37 balls.
With all teams now having just one game left to play, Glamorgan, Northamptonshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Kent, Middlesex and Surrey are the only sides that have no chance off progressing to the quarter-finals, while Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Sussex and Hampshire have certainly secured their progression to the last eight. The rest of the quarter finalists will be confirmed on Sunday when the final round of group games takes place.
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