A fine all-round performance from Yasir Arafat ensured defending champions Kent kept their hopes of back-to-back titles alive with a 50-run victory against Sussex at Hove. Sussex have struggled throughout this year's event and their batting again fell in a heap as they chased 163. Arafat claimed the three big wickets - Murray Goodwin, Matt Prior and Dwayne Smith, the latter a marginal lbw decision - in a two-over spell and the middle order couldn't produce the required recovery. Kent were on course for a larger total after Robert Key (38) and Arafat (42) helped them to 104 for 2. Arafat's innings took 23 balls and he cleared the boundary three times. Azhar Mahmood also clubbed useful runs before the last six wickets fell for 15, but Kent had more than enough.
Essex advanced to the quarter-finals at the expense of Hampshire with a 54-run win in what was a straight knock-out at Chelmsford. It was Essex's bowling which won them the match, after a below-par display with the bat as they were bowled out for 159. David Masters and Graham Napier did the early damage, then Danish Kaneria's variations proved too much for the middle and lower order. Plenty of Essex batsmen made starts, but only Mark Pettini (49) moved past 20. Napier hit two sixes before he was bowled by Dimitri Mascarenhas, who collected three wickets after being released by England. It was a good day for the international bowlers, as Chris Tremlett took 4 for 25 but his haul was also to prove in vein.
Middlesex warmed up for their 'home' quarter final with a comfortable seven-wicket victory against Surrey at The Oval. Eoin Morgan and Ben Scott added an unbeaten 70 as Middlesex reached their target of 140 with nine balls to spare after another impressive display with the ball. Surrey slumped to 38 for 4 against some accurate seam bowling, which always left them chasing the game. Usman Afzaal (37) and Jon Batty (42 not out) did their best, but Tyron Henderson's late wickets ensured the total was kept well within bounds.
Durham earned a home draw for the quarter-finals with the pointed gained from their abandoned match against Lancashire at Chester-le-Street. Bad light and rain were a problem all afternoon, cutting Durham's innings down to 10 overs before forcing the players off again 10 balls into Lancashire's chase. Shaun Pollock and Liam Plunkett each struck in their opening overs, however the elements prevented an outright finish. Andrew Flintoff enjoyed a profitable two-over burst as he picked up four wickets at the end of Durham's innings.
Jim Allenby completed a satisfying personal Twenty20 campaign with a half century and four wickets at Grace Road, as Leicestershire ended a disappointing tournament on a high with a 23-run win against Derbyshire. Allenby's unbeaten 50 off 31 balls boosted his team to a useful, if not intimidating, 149. Derbyshire's chase started promisingly, but Allenby broke through and wickets then fell steadily as he ended with his second five-wicket haul of the season.
Warwickshire fell to their first Twenty20 defeat of the season against fellow-qualifiers Northamptonshire at Edgbaston. They would have fancied their chases of remaining unbeaten at the half-way stage, having restricted the visitors to 137 but the batting flopped. Johann Louw claimed early wickets, then the pressure was applied by Nicky Boje who conceded just four-an-over. It was a good day for spin, as Ian Salisbury earlier collected three wickets as Northamptonshire stumbled from 77 for 2. In the final outcome, Steven Crook's 10-ball 26 proved a vital innings.
Jamie Dalrymple helped Glamorgan close their Twenty20 season on a successful note with bat and ball against Worcestershire at New Road. He hit 38 off 24 balls as Glamorgan sped home with seven balls to spare. His two wickets earlier in the day were also important, especially shifting Graeme Hick for 59 off 45 balls as Worcestershire's innings faded.
There was nothing riding on the match at Bristol, but rain meant Gloucestershire and Somerset had to settle for a point each.
Middlesex v Lancashire, The Oval
Essex v Northamptonshire, Chelmsford
Durham v Yorkshire, Chester-le-Street
Warwickshire v Kent, Edgbaston