Kent Spitfires boosted their Royal London One-Day Cup qualification hopes with a 28-run win against Somerset under the Duckworth-Lewis- Stern method at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence.
Calum Haggett and newly-capped Matt Henry continued their fine form with the ball, picking up three wickets each as the Spitfires secured a third successive win.
Reduced to 42 overs per side after heavy morning showers, returning Kent captain Sam Billings won the toss and opted to field first to make the most of any moisture in the pitch.
After being capped shortly before the match, New Zealand paceman Matt Henry claimed a wicket in both of his opening two overs.
The Kiwi paceman saw Johannes Myburgh dropped by Alex Blake off a rasping drive in his first over but, after the batsman cantered a single, struck with his next ball to have left-handed Steve Davies caught at the second attempt by Blake, again at extra cover.
In thundery, overcast conditions, the ball swung and nipped around off the seam under the floodlights and Henry struck in his next over by pegging back Myburgh’s off stump after he shouldered arms to an off-cutter that moved up the slope.
Peter Trego, the former Kent all-rounder, and James Hildreth took Somerset to 41 for two at the end of their nine-over batting powerplay but, three runs on, Darren Stevens struck with his third delivery winning a leg before shout as Hildreth played back and across a shooting off-cutter.
One-time Somerset all-rounder Calum Haggett accounted for former team-mate Trego by snaffling a sharp caught and bowled chance off a leading edge and Tom Banton chipped a Stevens slower ball low to Blake diving forward at short mid-wicket.
After reaching 83 for five at the innings mid-point, Somerset’s skipper Gregory lofted a Stevens length-ball over the ropes at long-on for the first six of the match as Gregory and Matt Renshaw posted 51 and 53-ball 50s in turn during a stand worth 103.
The partnership ended when Haggett had Renshaw (56) caught at short fine leg paddle sweeping then, four balls later, Roelof van der Merwe was caught at extra cover against Haggett.
Gregory’s 61-ball stay for 60 ended when he heaved across one from Mitch Claydon to lose middle stump and Jamie Overton skied to the keeper, Kent’s captain Sam Billings who returned from a 10-match Indian Premier League stint with eventual winner’s Chennai Super Kings only 24 hours earlier.
Veteran Stevens bowled a testing eight-over stint of two for 36 while Haggett (3/37) and Henry (3/42) were the pick of the attack.
Kent recovered from the earlier loss of leading one-day scorer Daniel Bell-Drummond, caught behind off the third ball of the reply from Gregory.
The hosts regrouped sensible to reach 48 for one come the end of the batting powerplay and had cantered to 88 for one through Joe Denly (44*) and Heino Kuhn (36*) when a sharp shower just before 8pm ended play with Spitfires 28 ahead of the required rate.
Kent coach Matt Walker felt his side had bossed the game and said: “It was a thoroughly professional performance I felt and a refreshing way to win, given our last ball thriller down in Hampshire on Sunday,
“We area learning and growing as a team and that is really pleasing to see. Players are starting work things out now after our two early losses and we’re looking like a decent side now.”
Join us for the double-header at The County Ground, Beckenham against Surrey (Friday 1 June) and Gloucestershire (Sunday 3 June). All matches start at 11am unless stated with gates opening an hour before.