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July 8, 2014
Nottinghamshire 158 for 9 (Taylor 44, Mullaney 36, Patel 3-16) beat Warwickshire 152 for 6 (Porterfield 51, Mullaney 2-27) by six runs
Warwickshire are blessed with the most fearsome battery of fast bowlers in the country but in recent T20s they have become a liability. They disappointed once again here and lost for the fourth time in succession as their prospects of qualifying for a quarter-final slipped further.
They were almost bailed out by their batsmen but Varun Chopra, the Warwickshire captain, admitted to a poor performance chasing 159 - a below-par total for Edgbaston.
Will Porterfield's half century set up 60 to win from 42 balls but Porterfield was the only serious contribution from their top order. Quicksilver hands from Chris Read stumped Laurie Evans as Warwickshire fell short of batting power, five down, with 42 needed in four overs and despite Freddie Coleman's three boundaries, Nottinghamshire held out via a series of excellent yorkers from Luke Fletcher in the final over who conceded only six with 13 required.
Fletcher demonstrated to his opponents the correct method of bowling seam on this wicket to send Notts to their fourth straight win and now second in the division - a top two finish will secure a home quarter-final.
Warwickshire's bowlers have not been entirely to blame for the Bears' slump in form - they lost their previous three matches, the last failing to chase just 140 - and Rikki Clarke actually has the fourth-best economy rate of any bowler in the tournament. But Boyd Rankin and Chris Wright have conceded almost nine-an-over. Here, their combined seven overs leaked 87 runs as they consistently bowled too short and a line too inviting to the short boundary towards the Raglan and Priory Stands.
Wright has proved the most expensive Warwickshire bowler in the completion this season. Here, he produced two overs of very hittable bowling, the second of which was taken for 22, as 59 came from the first five overs.
The seamers perhaps gained too much encouragement from a green-tinged wicket which afforded good carry - pleasing to see with so many slow, low surfaces around. But it was also a dry pitch which gripped for the spinners and it was they who dominated, squeezing the middle of the innings as only 28 came from overs 8 to 14. Notts later found joy with pace off the ball: Samit Patel and Steven Mullaney's cutters took four wickets and conceded 55 in eight overs between them.
Shoaib Malik may have left after his short stint but in Ateeq Javed Warwickshire have a very capable spinner who has conceded below a run-a-ball in his eight matches. He and Jeetan Patel were excellent, conceding only 37 from their four overs, finding some turn. Patel also picked up three wickets, the beneficiary of two smart catches from stand-in wicketkeeper Peter McKay and a beauty which deceived Sam Wood, turned away from the left-hander's flick to leg and took out off stump.
Notts also didn't help themselves with the bat. Alex Hales ran himself out, pushing straight to Clarke at mid-off who threw the bowler's stumps down. It was a suicidal run. The equally-dangerous Samit Patel also fell in irresponsibly cheap fashion with a mistimed drive to mid-on to fall second ball.
But Notts found some top-order runs through Riki Wessels, whose boundaries were rather streaky in his 29 from 14 balls, and Steven Mullaney - opening the batting for the first time - who was far more convincing in a innings of the same duration. In the second over, he cleared his front leg to strike a length ball from Wright dead straight for six and in his next over played the most effortless flick off his legs that sailed into the seats over square leg.
James Taylor provided the mainstay of the innings. Albeit in less-than-fluent fashion. He nudged six of his first seven balls from spinners back up the wicket before playing an ungainly reverse sweep that was mistimed. He couldn't even get a bat on a free-hit from Javed and took 29 balls to reach just 11. But when pace came back on the ball with the reintroduction of Rankin, Taylor went across his stumps three times in succession to flick leg side sixes - the second a top-edge over fine leg - as 19 came from the 14th over to inject some impetus back into the innings. But they were his final boundaries and he eventually holed out to deep midwicket in the final over.
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