Spitfires chase 323 for fifth win in a row

Spitfires chase 323 for fifth win in a row

Heino Kuhn and Joe Denly hit centuries in a record stand as Kent Spitfires chased 323 to record a fifth successive Royal London One-Day Cup win, defeating Gloucestershire by seven wickets at The County Ground, Beckenham.

The pair shared a 186-run partnership after the visitors posted 322-8 with two wickets each for Calum Haggett and Darren Stevens.

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Daniel Bell-Drummond (40) and Alex Blake (44*) topped and tailed the reply after half-centuries by Chris Dent, George Hankins, Ian Cockbain and Jack Taylor after the Westcountrymen opted to bat first.

The Spitfires cemented their second spot with the final group game against Essex at Chelmsford on Wednesday (6 June, 2pm).

Kent made a solid start to their pursuit, reaching 66 within their 10 powerplay overs before opening bat Daniel Bell-Drummond chipped a Craig Miles’ length ball to mid-wicket to go for 40.

With good running between the wickets Heino Kuhn and Joe Denly took the hosts to three figures in the 16th over to ensure they remained on track with the required rate.

Fresh from his maiden Kent hundred on this ground on Friday, Kolpak signing Heino continued his fine form with a 44-ball half-century with six fours and a six as Kent reached 164 for one at the half-way stage.

Denly posted his 50 from 61 balls as he and Kuhn beat Kent’s second-wicket record for List A cricket of 131 set by Trevor Ward and Chris Cowdrey at Canterbury in 1990.

The experienced second-wicket pair marched on, setting the highest List A stand for any wicket on the ground and then reaching 152 to pass Kent’s List A best stand for any wicket against Gloucestershire recorded by Ed Smith and Matt Walker at the St Lawrence ground in 1984.

Kuhn notched the 10th List A century of his career and his second here inside three days by cutting his 90th delivery from Benny Howell to the ropes for his 11 four to go with his two sixes.

Kuhn’s fun ended with his score on 110 when he just failed to clear the ropes at long-off where George Hankins held on to a good overhead chance to end the stand worth 186 in 28.1 overs. Kuhn had faced 102 balls.

Craig Miles held a stunning low catch in his follow-through that accounted for Sam Billings cheaply and, with 64 required off the last 10 overs, Denly reached his second century of the competition from 104 balls with seven fours and three sixes.

While Denly continued to supply the finesse, Alex Blake sidled in to provide the muscle with an unbeaten 44. Blake hit the six over mid-wicket off Miles to raise Kent’s 300 and 22 in total off the over as Kent won at the canter.

Gloucestershire, batting first after winning the toss, made good use of another Beckenham shirtfront prepared by Kent’s deputy head groundsman Adrian Llong, to post 322 for eight – comfortably their best List A total in the 56 previous one-day meetings between the counties.

Visiting openers Chris Dent and Hankins raced to 70 without loss after clobbering 10 fours and a six during the 10-over powerplay.

Hankins reached his third 50 of the campaign from 55 balls and with seven fours, then Dent clipped six over mid-wicket off Darren Stevens to raise the Gloucestershire 100. The left-hander then reached his half-century from 39 balls and with seven fours to go with a brace of sixes.

The visiting openers added 132 before Darren Stevens, fresh from his career-best figures here on Friday, broke through to have Dent, on 63, well held at mid-wicket by a diving Calum Haggett.

Stevens struck again to have Benny Howell caught at fine leg when attempting to lap-sweep, then Gareth Roderick holed out to ‘cow corner’ to give leg-spinner Joe Denly his only success.

Hankins was eight runs short of his hundred when he advanced looking to drive against Matt Henry only to york himself, lose off stump and depart after a 120-ball stay.

With wickets in hand and more than 13 overs remaining, the experienced pairing of Jack Taylor and Ian Cockbain went for their shots and upped the tempo. Taylor took three sixes off a Mitch Claydon over to reach a 37-ball 50 then Cockbain reached the milestone from 41 balls as Gloucestershire.

Taylor clipped to long off in the penultimate over to give, then four balls later, Ryan Higgins holed out to Sean Dickson on the ropes at long on to give Haggett a couple of deserved wickets.

Two run outs in the final over accounted for Cockbain and Ryan Higgins as Kent were left to chase at 6.46 an over.

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