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FPt20: Essex Eagles v Kent Spitfires match preview

Monday 31st May 2010

Essex Eagles v Kent Spitfires
Friends Provident T20 – South Division
Wednesday, 2 June 2010 – 7.10pm start
County Ground, Chelmsford

It“s now time for the Kent Spitfires to turn their attentions to the fastest and most furious form of cricket as they open their Friends Provident t20 campaign with a tough test against the Essex Eagles, in a televised fixture, under the Chelmsford lights, tomorrow night.

The Spitfires, led by Rob Key (pictured), will be looking to go all the way to finals day for the fourth year running this season, with domestic cricket“s golden day being held at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, 14 August. A slight change in the format sees just two divisions with Kent being drawn in the South Group alongside Essex, Middlesex, Sussex, Somerset, Surrey, Hampshire, Glamorgan and Gloucestershire. The top four from each group then move forward to the quarter-final stages.

From this season, all counties are permitted to field two overseas stars. To replace South African pace ace, Makhaya Ntini, the Spitfires have signed leg-spinning all-rounder Malinga Bandara. The Sri Lankan will form a lethal twin spin attack with England star James Tredwell.

With slow-bowling quickly becoming a crucial part of t20, the pair could be integral to Kent“s plans. Essex go into the competition with Pakistani leg-spinner Danish Kaneria and New Zealand all-rounder Scott Styris in their ranks as they look to progress further than the group stages, something they failed to achieve last season.

Kent opened their campaign against Mark Pettini“s side last year at Canterbury but rain ruined what would have been a good contest. Batting first, the visitors racked up 187-7 with the bat but Kent“s reply was thwarted in the fourth over as the heavens opened at the St Lawrence Ground.

Kent were then defeated by 36 runs in the reverse fixture, over in Essex. The Eagles again batted first and thanks to 77 from Alastair Cook and a 30-ball 61 by Grant Flower they stormed to 205-4 off their allotted overs. Many Kent players made starts, in the reply, but no-one went on to produce a match-winning knock. Joe Denly (32), Martin van Jaarsveld (33) and Geraint Jones (26) all got in but the visitors limped to 169-7 as Essex took the points. However, Kent went on to win their four final group games to see them cruise through to the quarter-finals and then, eventually, finals day before Somerset finally ended their dreams at Edgbaston.

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

If you are not going to Chelmsford then you can watch the game live on Sky Sports or listen to BBC Radio Kent. Further information is available at www.bbc.co.uk/kent.