Brendan Nash’s best List A performance only just proved to be decisive as Kent got their Yorkshire Bank 40 campaign up and running with a frantic one-run victory over Warwickshire at Edgbaston.
The former West Indies batsman’s unbeaten 98 lifted his side to 239 for nine and a fluctuating contest seemed to be going Kent’s way until Jeetan Patel almost pulled off a dramatic rescue act for Warwickshire.
Last year’s beaten finalists slumped to 185 for eight but, with 55 needed from six overs, the New Zealander set about the bowling with two sixes and six fours in a whirlwind 27-ball innings.
It eventually came down to the last ball and, requiring two runs, Patel was run out by Adam Ball, his heroics in making 50 - a career-best one-day score - proving in vain.
Earlier, Kent were well in charge when the spin bowling of James Tredwell and his 21-year-old partner Adam Riley knocked Warwickshire off course.
Riley crucially dismissed Will Porterfield, lbw for 47, and Tredwell captured the prized wicket when Varun Chopra was well caught at mid-off after making 65 in his build-up for England Lions duty later in the week.
While Chopra played a measured innings, it was a mixed day for Warwickshire’s other England candidates, either those in the Test team or others pushing for selection.
Ian Bell looked in imperious form in making 35, driving successive sixes off Mark Davies over long-on, but failed to clear midwicket off Matt Coles, and Jonathan Trott made only three before edging behind off Davies.
That came on top of a testing time for Chris Woakes and Chris Wright. The new-ball bowlers, who will be with Chopra in the Lions squad to meet New Zealand at Grace Road on Thursday, conceded 101 runs between them, although the former did pick up a couple of wickets.
Kent may have promised more than they delivered after losing the toss. Rob Key made a brisk start with 44 until pulling off-spinner Patel to midwicket and, as much as Nash kept the board ticking over, the left-hander hit only seven boundaries from 106 deliveries.
Others attempted to be more destructive, notably Ball, with five fours in a rapid 28, and Coles, who struck successive sixes off Woakes in reaching 20 from 11 balls.
That Kent were unable kick on in the middle overs of their innings was mostly due to Darren Maddy on his first appearance of the season.
The former Leicestershire all-rounder, 39 later this month, took two wickets in five balls and held three catches, the first removing Key after a stand of 85 with Nash.