Northamptonshire narrowly lost out to table-toppers Notts Outlaws in a great contest that went right down to the wire.

Alex Wakely won the toss and elected to bat first for the second consecutive game following victory at Leicestershire on Saturday. Ben Curran and Brett Hutton off getting some red-ball practice with the second xi made way for youngsters Charlie Thurston and Tom Sole.

Richard Levi was the first depart for 9, bowled by Luke Fletcher by a ball that nipped back and through his defence to end the opening stand at 24 in the seventh over. Josh Cobb came to join Ricardo Vasconcelos in the middle and took the game to the Notts Outlaws bowling attack, scoring 20 off his first 10 balls with 3 fours and the first maximum of the innings. They put together an enterprising 117 for the second wicket before the left-arm spin of Samit Patel had Cobb caught at long-off for 63 and later he trapped Vasconcelos in front for 74. Captain Alex Wakely joined Rob Keogh in the middle at 160 for 3 in the 31st over.

The skipper and in-form Keogh put the side in a great position with a partnership of 96 in just 74 balls with great running between the wickets. Wakely eventually hauled out to Alex Hales at deep mid-wicket off the bowling of James Pattinson, departing for 53. Keogh then upped the ante, reaching his fifty at a run a ball and finding the rope three times before he was caught by Patel off the bowling of Jake Ball leaving Northants 296 for 5 with a little over 3 overs remaining.

Thurston in at number 6 played a nice cameo, dispatching Pattinson over point to open his boundary count, but he too fell off the bowling of Ball for 21, bringing Sole to the middle to face the last over with Luke Procter. It was a profitable finish with 15 off Fletcher’s last over, even though he uprooted Sole’s off stump with the penultimate delivery the Steelbacks had the last laugh. Ian Holland jogged out to face the last ball and brilliantly ramped a ball over the keeper for a one bounce four to end the innings at 325 for 7.

The Outlaws were set back at 39 for 3 by the seventh over in their reply, after an excellent spell from Ben Sanderson and a remarkable over from Nathan Buck. The former England Lions seamer had veteran opener Chris Nash caught at slip for 15 and followed that up with a surprise short ball that got big on the returning Ben Duckett, who could only top edge into the grateful hands of Wakely at mid-wicket. The hattrick was not be though, firmly defended by Patel.

Hales and Patel looked to be steadying the ship until a poor attempted drive from the former saw him drag on from Procter who had come on first change. This brought captain Steven Mullaney to the crease but he did not hang around either, brilliantly caught by Ben Sanderson, running and diving backwards from short fine leg to leave the Outlaws struggling at 116 for 5. Keeper batsman Tom Moores brought a lot of enthusiasm and embarked on a battling partnership with Patel bringing the Outlaws back into the contest with 69 from 55 balls before perishing to Sanderson with the visitors requiring 99 from 64.

Tailenders Fletcher and Pattinson both contributed 15 in partnership with Patel who reached his century from 111 balls. Buck clean bowled Matthew Carter for 5 with the last ball of the penultimate over setting up a grandstand finish with Notts needing 12 from 6 balls to seal top spot in the North Group of the Royal London One-Day Cup. Patel pulled Sanderson for a maximum off the first ball leaving 6 from 5 and then two boundaries through the backward point region brought them home with Patel ending proceedings 136 not out.

Northamptonshire 325/7 (50) (Vasconcelos 74, Keogh 71) defeated by Nottinghamshire 328 for 9 (49.3) (Buck 3/60, Sanderson 3/66). Full scorecard.