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Essex completed the semi-final line-up for Friends Life T20 competition after thrashing Nottinghamshire by 47 runs to join Northamptonshire, Hampshire and Surrey on finals day next weekend.
The Outlaws decision to put Essex in to bat looked to be a good move as Essex slumped to 46 for three but that brought Ravi Bopara and Ryan ten Doeschate together in the middle.
Ten Doeschate survived an early lbw scare when replays suggested Ian Butler was unlucky not to see the finger go up but the big-hitting all-rounder made full use of his reprieve to turn the innings and the match around.
The Netherlands international took a particular liking for the spin bowling of Samit Patel and Graeme White as he clubbed 82 off just 44 balls, including five fours and five sixes.
He was ably supported by Bopara (38 off 25) as the pair added 72 for the fourth wicket, before ten Doeschate dominated subsequent partnerships with James Foster and Graeme Napier to help the Eagles post 187 for six off their 20 overs.
Backed by the largest domestic t20 crowd of 12,106, the Notts reply got off to a flyer with Alex Hales crashing 31 off 12 balls to bring the 50 up inside four overs.
However, David Masters claimed the scalps of both openers in his first over to shift the momentum firmly in the visitors’ favour.
Only skipper David Hussey offered real resistance as he made 61 off 37 deliveries before he was dismissed by Shaun Tait, who then took the wickets of Butler and White to complete a hat-trick.
Graeme Napier took the final wicket of Harry Gurney as Notts were all out for 140 with the Eagles owing much to ten Doeschate, who also claimed the wicket of Riki Wessels.
Essex now go to finals day and will take on Northants in their last-four clash buoyed by an impressive win as they look to lift the trophy for the first time, while Surrey take on holders Hampshire in the other semi-final.