CB40: Hampshire Royals v Kent Spitfires match preview

Thursday 26th August 2010

Hampshire Royals v Kent Spitfires
Clydesdale Bank 40 – Group C
Sunday, 29 August 2010. 1.45pm start
Rose Bowl, Southampton

With Clydesdale Bank 40 qualification hopes still very much alive, the Kent Spitfires travel to the Rose Bowl on Sunday to take on Hampshire Royals in a must-win clash.

Rob Key“s men currently sit in fourth position in Group C, four points off top spot with three games to play. The winners of the group automatically qualify for the semi-final stages with the best runner-up from the three groups joining them. So if Kent claim a maximum haul from their remaining fixtures they have a chance of qualification. However, standing in their way first is third place Hampshire, led by the evergreen but effervescent Dominic Cork. All the ingredients are there for a pulsating battle.

Kent are in fine form in this tournament having won three of their previous four games, the last of which was a highly impressive 42-run victory over high-flying Nottinghamshire at Canterbury last Sunday. With persistent rain meaning the clash was reduced to 16-overs per side it became more of a thrash and the home side steamrolled their illustrious opponents. Batting first, cameos from opening pair Joe Denly (pictured) and Key, 22 apiece, laid the foundation for power hitters Darren Stevens (49 from 35 balls) and Azhar Mahmood (29 from 15 balls) to lift Kent up to 135-3 off their allotted overs.

In reply the Outlaws were never in the hunt and could only make 93 for nine as Matt Coles recorded fine figures of 3-7. Simon Cook and Azhar also chipped in with two wickets apiece as the Spitfires kept their interests in this competition alive.

The Royals were also victorious in their last outing as they tore apart basement side Scotland by eight wickets at Aberdeen last week. The home side were bundled out for a mediocre 164, as left-arm seam bowler Chris Wood took 4-33 to leave Hampshire with an elementary run-chase. An unbeaten 74 from Jimmy Adams, and 63 off 52 balls from Sean Ervine, meant the Royals ran out comfortable victors – with more than eight overs to spare.

The last time these two sides met was in this very competition, at the St Lawrence Ground back in July, when the Royals edged an epic encounter. Cork“s men had first use of a decent track and contributions from England T20 World Cup winner Michael Lumb (50), talented youngster James Vince (49) and former-Kent batsman Michael Carberry (46) powered the Royals up to a competitive 238-7. James Tredwell and Coles were the sole Kent wicket-takers, with three scalps apiece.

The run-chase seemed to be all going to plan, despite losing Sam Northeast early, as Denly and Martin van Jaarsveld put on 136 for the second wicket. However, towards the end of their stand, the run-rate escalated and when van Jaarsveld (73), Geraint Jones and finisher Stevens all fell in quick succession, Kent needed 49 off the final four overs and in the end it was just out of their reach. Denly finished on a superb unbeaten 102, but alongside Azhar (25 from 13 balls), they couldn“t quite scramble over the line as ultimately Cork“s 3-56 proved pivotal as the Royals left the St Lawrence Ground with a slender, and possibly crucial, two-run win.

Kent have named the following 12-man squad for the trip to the Rose Bowl: Key (C), Denly, van Jaarsveld, Jones (W), Stevens, Blake, Northeast, Tredwell, Coles, Cook, Bandara, Nel.

Picture:Getty Images