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FP t20 match preview: Kent Spitfires v Hampshire Royals

Wednesday 30th June 2010

Kent Spitfires v Hampshire Royals
Friends Provident t20 – South Division
Friday, 2 July 2010. 5.30pm start
St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury

After an entertaining clash against the touring Pakistan side, it“s back to the hustle and bustle of t20 for Kent“s cricketers as they welcome the Hampshire Royals to Canterbury for this latest crucial South Division clash.

Points are at a premium for both sides now as the scramble for a quarter-final place continues with the top four teams in the division progressing. The Spitfires currently lie in eighth position, having taken six points from ten games, while the Royals are in fifth spot having won four of their first nine games. The group is a tight one so whoever can go on a winning run has a chance of collecting a place in the last eight.

Rob Key“s men need to go for broke now in the second-half of the group stages and they started in fine fashion last Sunday when they shocked league leaders Sussex Sharks at Hove – and it was the captain who led by example. On a decent batting track, the visitors batted first, and after putting on 90 for the first wicket with Joe Denly (38), Key found another good ally in vice-captain Martin van Jaarsveld as the duo powered the spitfires to a formidable 194-1 of their allotted overs. Key ended unbeaten on 98, off just 55 balls, while van Jaarsveld weighed in with a quickfire 53.

The Kent seam bowlers then put the Sharks under pressure immediately as Azhar Mahmood and Matt Coles reduced the home side to 14-2 with the new ball. The Spitfires then continued to take wickets at important points of the innings and, despite a 26-ball 44 from England Test keeper Matt Prior, Sussex could only muster 167-9 to hand Kent a deserved 27 run win. Coles (3-30), Mahmood (2-23) and Simon Cook (2-46) shone with the ball for last season“s semi-finalists.

The Royals, however, crashed to a heavy nine-wicket defeat at the hands of the Essex Eagles last time out at the Rose Bowl. Hampshire batted first and posted a solid, yet unspectacular, 159-8 with Sean Ervine“s unbeaten 74 being the mainstay of the innings. The Eagles made light work of the run-chase as they knocked the runs off with two overs remaining. The talented Ravi Bopara struck his highest t20 score of 94 not out to lead the visitors to victory.

The two sides have already met once in this season“s t20 group stages and Kent will be looking to avenge the five-wicket defeat they suffered against the Royals at the Rose Bowl, back in early June. The Spitfires struggled throughout their innings as they scraped up to 114-9, thanks largely to 36 from Darren Stevens, but he was run-out with three overs left and with him went any chances of posting a competitive total. With the ball, Kent stuck to their task as Stevens dismissed England World Cup winner Michael Lumb with the very first ball of the innings but contributions all the way down, including 31 from Ervine, enabled the Royals to take victory with two balls remaining. The efforts of Stevens (2-20) and James Tredwell (2-20) were all in vain.

With fine weather predicted and important points to play for, the St Lawrence Ground is the best place to start your weekend, so with tickets still available please come down to Canterbury and show your support to the Kent Spitfires. You can purchase your tickets on the gate. The price is £25 for adults and £10 for juniors.

The Spitfires have named a 13-man squad for the game. Amjad Khan and James Hockley (pictured) both come into contention with Darren Stevens and James Tredwell away on England Lions duty.

Kent Spitfires (from): Key (C), Denly, van Jaarsveld, Jones (W), Hockley, Blake, Mahmood, Coles, Shaw, Bandara, Cook, Khan, Goodman