FP t20: Kent name unchanged 12 for the trip to the Rose Bowl

Wednesday 2nd June 2010

Hampshire Royals v Kent Spitfires
Friends Provident t20 – South Division
Thursday, 3 June 2010
The Rose Bowl, Southampton

After sealing a fine victory over the Essex Eagles in their FPt20 opener last night, the Kent Spitfires will be looking to continue their fine run of form as they travel to the Rose Bowl to take on the Hampshire Royals in another intriguing clash.

Darren Stevens (49*, 2-29), Geraint Jones (pictured, who made 54) and Simon Cook (2-15) all played pivotal roles in the impressive six-wicket win as the Spitfires chased down 168 under the Chelmsford lights to make it four wins on the spin in all competitions. They face a Royals side that has been weakened by Shahid Afridi“s decision to return to playing Test-match cricket.

The former Kent overseas player was set to play a starring role alongside fellow Pakistani Abdul Razzaq in this season“s tournament but instead will tour England as captain of his country as they take on the Three Lions in a four match Test series, starting at Trent Bridge on 29 July. This is after Kent welcomes Pakistan to Canterbury for a three-day warm up match, starting on 28 June.

However, even without Afridi, Hampshire still boost some fearsome performers including England“s World Cup winning opener Michael Lumb, dangerous wicketkeeper/batsman Nic Pothas plus the experience of captain Dimitri Mascarenhas. The home side, who have been dubbed tournament favourites by the bookies, look a tough outfit to crack.

Last season both sides progressed from the South Division – Kent as group winners, Hampshire as a best placed third – and it was the Spitfires who proved their superiority over their rivals by defeating them twice in the group stages.

Firstly, Tunbridge Wells saw a thrilling eight run victory for Rob Key“s men. Batting first, the home side racked up 182-4 with the captain“s 58 stunningly complimented by another Stevens onslaught. His 27-ball 56 included six huge sixes as Kent posted a formidable score.

However, in reply, Hampshire looked as though they were in control. 59 off 33-balls from Lumb, ably assisted by former-Kent batsman Michael Carberry“s 39, looked to have set the victory platform at 162-3 before a series of run outs and tight bowling meant the visitors panicked and came up short; finishing on 174-7. Ryan McLaren“s 2-31 and three run outs were the main perpetrators of the team“s downfall.

Kent also took victory in the return fixture at the Rose Bowl, recording a clinical seven-wicket win to secure their place in the quarter-finals. Hampshire batted first and immediately slumped to 42-6 as the Spitfires attack cut through a talented top order. Mascarenhas struck an unbeaten 45 and, in tandem with veteran Dominic Cork (18*), the pair put on 49 for the ninth wicket as the home side recovered to 131-7 from their allotted overs with McLaren again excelling for Kent, taking 2-17.

Even though the late rearguard was spirited, the total was always below par despite Kent looking in trouble at one stage on 30-3. However, Stevens (62*) and Jones (35*) again stayed composed to put on an unbeaten 102 for the fourth wicket as the Spitfires took victory with 13 balls to spare.

While Kent went onto finals day, Hampshire fell at the next hurdle as they failed to chase down 135, away at Northamptonshire, and lost by 13 runs. This time around both sides will be looking to go one better than their respective final places last season.

Kent have named an unchanged 12-man squad for the game: Key (C), Denly, van Jaarsveld, Jones (W), Stevens, Blake, Azhar Mahmood, Tredwell, Bandara, Cook, Khan, Coles

Picture:Getty Images