Muttiah Muralitharan wasn't originally going to play in the Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa, but is probably looking forward to it now after he proved Lancashire's match winner against Warwickshire at Edgbaston. In a high-scoring contest, his spell off 4 for 18 made the difference after Neil Carter's 31-ball 58 gave the home side a chance of reaching their target of 194. But Muralitharan's introduction changed the game as he removed Carter and claimed three more split over two spells. Warwickshire couldn't keep up with needing 12-an-over and Lancashire held on by six runs. Gareth Cross, the talented young wicketkeeper who plays ahead of Luke Sutton in Twenty20, sparkled during Lancashire's innings with a 35-ball 62, including five sixes, and he was the main cause of Jimmy Anyon's third over costing 26. Steven Croft also impressed with 42 off 22 balls after Stuart Law had started the innings in style with 44. Lancashire now have their third crack at claiming the trophy.
Kent booked their place in Finals Day for the first time with a nine-wicket win over last year's runners-up Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge although they only had one ball left. Chasing 139, Robert Key struck 54 off 43 balls, adding 96 for the first wicket with Joe Denly. However, Kent didn't tick off the runs with absolute ease although Denly's unbeaten 63 sealed the job. Kent's slow bowlers had instigated a dramatic collapse after Stephen Fleming (49) and Graeme Swann (30) added 82 for Nottinghamshire's first wicket. James Tredwell produced an economical spell of offspin - including the scalp of the prolific Samit Patel - while Darren Stevens and Martin van Jaarsveld chipped in with key wickets. Andrew Hall wrapped up the innings with a couple of wickets and Kent's impressive one-day season continues.
Sussex completed the semi-final line-up with a strong 38-run against Yorkshire at Hove. A well-paced batting display - led by Murray Goodwin and Luke Wright - carried them to an imposing 193 for 5 and, despite a positive 47 from Craig White, Yorkshire couldn't overhaul it. Goodwin (57) and Wright (45) added 71 for the second wicket, but Wright could have gone twice in three balls when he was dropped at long on by Jason Gillespie before scoring and, in the same Jacques Rudolph over, Gerard Brophy missed a simple stumping. Wright made hay, showing why he's earned a place in England's 30-man Twenty20 squad, and launched three balls over the fence. Goodwin held the innings together before Mushtaq Ahmed added the finishing touches with a flamboyant seven-ball 20, including two audacious flicks off Darren Gough in the final over. Mushtaq played his part with the ball, too, as he bowled his four overs for 22, and Yorkshire's innings faded away against James Kirtley and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan.
Lancashire v Gloucestershire
Sussex v Kent