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Kent seal dramatic eight-run T20 win v Hampshire

Wednesday 8th June 2016

Kent Spitfires held their nerve in the face of a barrage from Shahid Afridi and Darren Sammy to secure a thrilling eight-run NatWest T20 Blast win against Hampshire in Canterbury.

With two of the world’s best short-form masterblasters at the crease, Kent’s death bowling specialist David Griffiths trusted his yorkers and reaped the rewards by dismissing both internationals in a stint of two for 24 that secured Kent’s second win of the campaign.

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“It was a game that never felt done and dusted,” said Kent skipper Sam Northeast. “We might have taken a few more wickets sooner and got the job done sooner, but it’s never ideal when you’ve got Sammy and Afridi walking out, hitting it from ball one.

“Griff has been brilliant for us and it’s great to have him fit again [following close-season back surgery]. He’s seriously one of the best bowlers at the death when he’s fit and that was a remarkable little spell from him again.”

Hampshire skipper Sean Ervine, however, felt the total was within his side’s compass. He said: “With two world superstars in your side our job is to create a platform, take it deep and then let them do what they do best. Maybe we left it too late and four run outs certainly don’t help. But I though ‘Griff’ and Ivan Thomas bowled exceptionally for Kent and they probably made the difference.”

In pursuit of Kent’s useful 193 for three at an asking rate of 9.7 an over, Hampshire made a miserable start when Jimmy Adams (5) chipped the fourth-ball of the reply from Darren Stevens straight to mid-on.

Then, in the third over, Lewis McManus (6) was run out at the non-striker’s end after Joe Denly’s sharp stop and throw from cover.

Adam Wheater made amends for the run out by pulling former team-mate Griffiths for a six that landed next to the Sky Sports Hub, then Ervine deposited Stevens into the cheap seats to take the visitors on to 48 for two after the powerplay.

Thomas replaced Griffiths at the Nackington Road End and struck with his third ball by pegging back the off stump of Wheater (19).

James Tredwell snaffled a nonchalant left-handed catch off a leading edge to send Liam Dawson (6) packing and, at 71 for four at the mid-point, Hampshire’s required run rate had leapt to 12.3 an over.

Ervine was on 31 when he clubbed to deep square only to be reprieved when Thomas’s waist-high full-toss was adjudged a no ball, but further confusion between the batsmen led to the run out of Will Smith (9).

That was the cue for Ervine to cut loose, clubbing two successive sixes off Stevens he reached a 32-ball 50 only to become the third run out victim when trying to scamper a single off Tredwell.

With Afridi and Sammy in tandem Hampshire’s scoring rate shot up, Afridi depositing four sixes in the space of seven deliveries from Tredwell and Matt Coles.

With 30 balls to go Hampshire’s asking rate had crept under 10 an over for the first time sparking Sammy to hit his first maximum over mid-wicket.

Afridi’s fun ended for 35 when he drove a low full-toss from Griffiths to long-on as Kent’s death bowlers started to deploy their yorkers at will.

With 26 needed of 12 balls, Sammy pulled Coles for six then leant back to smatter four through extra cover but, to the last ball of the over the West Indian’s miscued drive was gathered by Coles who span to run out Gareth Andrew who was backing up.

With 14 needed of the last over from Griffiths, Gareth Berg chipped to long off to bring Sammy (30) onto strike, but he feathered a back-foot heave to the keeper to depart for 30 and Hampshire’s hopes went with him.

With one win apiece from three starts, both these south group sides went into the game needing a confidence-boosting victory in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

Batting first after losing the toss, Kent openers Daniel Bell-Drummond and Denly faced four different bowlers in as many overs at the start, but had no alarms in posting 52 without loss at the end of the six powerplay overs.

Denly tucked into the bowling of Afridi with a brace of leg-side sixes that lost a couple of balls into the building site near the Old Dover Road on his way to a 30-ball 50 with four fours and three sixes.

It was his 20th half-century in the format and he passed another milestone soon after with his 3,000th run in the short form but, with his score on 59 Denly toe-ended a pull against Tino Best to hole out at deep mid-wicket.

Three balls later Best bowled Bell-Drummond (35) as the in-form opener worked across the line.

The hosts re-grouped through Sam Billings and Sam Northeast before Billings upped the momentum with a straight six, again off Afridi as Spitfires posted their 150 in the 17th over.

Billings then swept an 87mph delivery from Best for an audacious six that flew out of the ground making a beeline for The Bat & Ball pub.

The England T20 World Cup squad member reached his 50 in the penultimate over from 27 balls.

Northeast (38) perished to the penultimate delivery of the innings ending a stand of 94 in nine overs with Billings, who finished unbeaten on 55 from 40 balls.


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