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Kent Spitfires beat Gloucestershire by seven wickets in One-Day Cup

Kent Spitfires returned to the top four of the Royal London One-Day Cup South Group table with a seven-wicket win against Gloucestershire at the start of the 165th Canterbury Cricket Week.

A good festival crowd were treated to a complete bowling display from the Kent attack before Joe Denly (82*) and Daniel Bell-Drummond (42) saw the Spitfires home with almost nine overs to spare.

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Denly hit nine fours and a six to anchor the successful Spitfires run-chase to secure a fourth south group win with 52 balls to spare and maintain Kent’s hopes of securing a quarter final berth.

In pursuit of Gloucestershire’s modest total of 200 all out, Kent were given a sound start by in-form openers Denly and Daniel Bell-Drummond, who both went into the game boasting a 60-plus average in this season’s 50-over competition.

On a tricky pitch on which boundaries came at a premium, the pair equalled Kent’s record List A first-wicket stand against Gloucestershire – drawing level with the 92 set by Brian Luckhurst and Graham Jonson here in 1972 – when Bell-Drummond fell for 42.

Playing back to one from Benny Howell that just held its line against the St Lawrence slope, the ball clipped off stump to end Bell-Drummond’s 59-ball stay.

Denly, who posted centuries in Kent’s RLODC games against Glamorgan in June and at the Ageas Bowl against Hampshire recently, maintained his form by marching to a 71-ball 50 with seven fours.

Spitfires skipper Sam Northeast contributed 26 to the chase before he mistimed a back-foot force against one that held up on the surface to clip a return catch to the bowler David Payne and make it 146 for two.

Sam Billings erratic form continued when he too clipped back a miscued drive to the bowler, this time against spinner Graeme van Buuren, bringing in Darren Stevens batting in black trainers.

Where others had struggled for their timing, Stevens was soon blazing it to all parts. He moved past 7,000 List A career runs in the process and went on to win the game with a pulled six to finish unbeaten on 28 from 21 balls.

Having won the toss and elected to field, Kent made their opening breakthrough with the 12th ball of the day and the 6th delivery down the Nackington Road slope from Matt Coles. A quick in-swinging yorker, the ball beat Phil Mustard’s clip to leg and re-arranged the stumps to make it seven for one.

Coles struck again in his third over, beating Ian Cockbain’s back-foot defensive push to send the right-hander packing lbw for six.

The dismissal brought together Gloucestershire captain Michael Klinger and Kiwi batsman Hamish Marshall, so often Kent’s nemesis in recent seasons – indeed, in his previous 32 appearances against Kent, Marshall had scored seven 50s and three centuries.

The pair added 42 in 12.1 overs until Klinger, on 36 and in aiming to steer one from Darren Stevens down to third man, only succeeded in toe-ending the ball onto the base of off stump.

Stevens completed his 10-over stint with figures of one for 28 as the visitors limped to 96 for three at the midpoint of their innings.

Stevens was duly replaced by Charlie Hartley, a 22-year-old Worcestershire-born seamer making his first Kent appearance since late 2014.

Fresh from back-to-back five-wicket hauls for Kent 2nds, Hartley struck in his second over, trapping Marshall (43) lbw with a full off-cutter as the mop-topped right-hander aimed to clip leg-side.

Hartley struck again in near identical fashion on his next over, snaring Van Buuren lbw as the fifth successive wicket of the innings fell from the same end.

That run was broken in the next over when Jack Taylor chipped a slower ball straight back to Will Gidman, the on-loan

Nottinghamshire all-rounder making his home debut against his former county, who took a comfortable return catch.

Gidman struck again by clipping the top of Benny Howell’s leg stump with an in-ducker then another slower delivery, a low full-toss, accounted for Craig Miles who clipped it straight to mid-wicket.

Tom Smith and David Payne added 36 for the ninth wicket before Payne ran himself out when chancing a second run to Bell-Drummond at deep cover.

As Gloucestershire finally limped to 200, so Mitch Claydon took his sole wicket by bowling Matt Taylor in the final over, leaving Tom Smith unbeaten on 29. Of the Kent attack, Gidman closed with three for 28, while Hartley and Coles bagged two wickets apiece.

Scorecard

Click here for tickets to Wednesday's Specsavers County Championship match against Worcestershire (kids go free)