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Kent crush Notts with ease

Rising star Joe Denly guided Kent to their first appearance at the Twenty20 Cup finals day as his unbeaten 63 saw off Nottinghamshire by nine wickets with one ball to spare.

The England Lions opener put on a Kent record 96 for the first wicket with skipper Robert Key, who made 54 off 43 balls, with two fours and two sixes.

Kent seemed to be cruising home with 11 needed off 12 balls, but a brilliant penultimate over from former Kent all-rounder Mark Ealham had the visiting supporters biting their nails as nine runs were needed from the last over.

But Denly kept his cool to paddle-sweep AJ Harris for four and two scrambled singles sent the joint-favourites packing and left the home crowd of 7,585 wondering what might have been.

Notts got off to a flying start as Stephen Fleming and Graeme Swann raced to 71 off the first seven overs.

But the appearance of the slower bowlers brought the Outlaws' charge to a grinding halt, with Fleming first to go, bowled through the gate by Simon Cook as he tried to work to leg.

That was the cue for four more home wickets to fall in the next five overs, with Swann struggling to get the wily off-spin of James Tredwell away before being bowled for 30 coming down the track.

The big-hitting Notts middle order of David Hussey, Samit Patel and Will Jefferson all fell for single figures trying to force the pace, while Bilal Shafayat hit one four before he was caught.

It was left to wicketkeeper Chris Read to try and repair the damage, hitting two boundaries before he was yorked by Andrew Hall for 26 in the final over, with two more wickets falling at the death as Notts were all out for a below-par 138.

Denly and Key had already shown their worth earlier in the season with an opening stand of 65 against Sussex in the group stages.

And from the moment Key pulled Harris for four in the first over the visitors were always firmly in control.

Neither batsman was forced to take unnecessary risks and pierced the in-field for runs as well as collecting the odd boundary.

Key was eventually caught sweeping off Swann's off-spin but the result was never really in doubt, despite Ealham's late heroics.

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