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Bell-Drummond career-best knock as Spitfires win to stay top

Friday 10th July 2015

Kent consolidated their NatWest T20 Blast South Group lead with a 22-run win over Somerset in front of a 6,000-plus crowd under the lights at Canterbury.

Spitfires put on a super show in front of the Sky Sports cameras to secure their eighth win from 11 starts while also completing a group double over Somerset.

Adapting the better with bat and ball to a slow Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence pitch, Kent fielded tigerishly and caught their chances superbly to restrict Somerset to 151 for nine and comfortably defend their total of 173 for six based on Daniel Bell-Drummond’s T20 career-best knock of 77 from 51 balls.

Batting first after losing the toss for the first time in eight south group starts, man-of-the-match Bell-Drummond and his opening partner Joe Denly made a circumspect start in the face of some accurate Somerset bowling.

The pair cut loose after four overs, taking 23 off the fifth and sixth overs to end the powerplay overs with a flourish. Joe Denly was denied a third six however when his lofted pull shot against Abdur Rehman clipped the St Lawrence lime tree as it sailed over the ropes to be declared merely a four.

The first wicket partners reached 75 without loss at the mid-point of the inning, then Denly then pulled Jamie Overton for another four near to the lime tree to move to a 45-ball 50 – his first of this season’s tournament.

The pair extended their stand into three figures in the 13th over as Bell-Drummond posted his third 50 of the competition from 36 balls until Denly (61) holed out to Overton at long on against Jim Allenby to make it 112 for one.

With only six overs left Kent promoted left-handed big-hitter Alex Blake to No3, but the ploy backfired when Overton pegged back his off stump as Blake attempted to steer a straight delivery to third man.

Kent skipper Sam Northeast (7) suffered his first failure of the campaign when he was caught overhead at short third man by former Kent all-rounder Peter Trego, then Bell-Drummond went for 71 from 51 balls when he charged at Alfonso Thomas, only to york himself.

Despite a cameo 21 off 11 balls from Sam Billings, the wily veteran Thomas proved the pick of Somerset’s attack with three for 28 as Matt Coles (4) holed out in the thrash for late runs. Fabian Cowdrey (1) then ran himself out off the final delivery of the innings to leave Somerset to chase 174 at an asking rate of 8.7 an over.

The visitors lost Johann Myburgh (16) early in the reply whe the right-hander worked across the line to have middle stump clipped by Mitch Claydon. Allenby hit the electronic scoreboard behind the ropes over deep mid-wicket with a six pulled off the same bowler, yet Somerset trailed Kent by five runs on powerplay comparison.

With scoreboard pressure mounting, Allenby (15) clipped to Coles at long-on to give the naggingly accurate James Tredwell a deserved wicket.

Darren Stevens then accounted for James Hildreth for a duck. Spearing one down leg-side as the right-hander advanced, Hildreth was smartly stumped by Billings to make it 50 for three.

Billings pulled off a sharp catch to account for Trego (18) as he tried to cut a wide, out-swinger from Stevens then, with only four to his name, Tom Cooper was run out when backing up after Cowdrey tipped a Luke Ronchi back-foot force onto the non-striker’s end stumps.

Cowdrey bowled Tim Groenwald (2) as he recklessly heaved across the line and then had Ronchi (12) caught at the aptly- named ‘cow corner’ by Coles to end Somerset’s hopes of victory.

Afterwards a delighted Northeast said: “Somerset are a good side in this format and to beat them like that was good, we showed a lot of character with the bat because it wasn’t an easy pitch to bat on, but Joe and Danny made it look very easy and set the whole thing up.

“Daniel is really growing in this competition. He’s started to learn his game in this format and I’m sure we’ll see him go on to bigger things.

“I thought we were in the game with 150 or 160 on the board but 173 was just above a par score because we thought the pitch was always going to get a little bit worse. Then, when Tredwell and Cowdrey came on it was tough for the Somerset batters to score.”

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