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Kent v Gloucestershire: Klinger and Howell sees visitors home

Friday 5th June 2015

Men’s First Team

Michael Klinger's unbeaten 69 and three Benny Howell wickets helped Gloucestershire to secure a nine-wicket win over NatWest T20 Blast South Group leaders Kent Spitfires at The County Ground, Beckenham.

Chasing Kent’s modest total of 156 for six, the visitors won with 16 balls to spare to inflict a first home defeat on the Spitfires.

Gloucestershire made an imperious start to their run chase through New Zealander Hamish Marshall and in-form Aussie Klinger, who has scored 195 runs in his two T20 innings to date and is yet to be dismissed.

Fresh from scoring and unbeaten 126 on his season’s competition debut against Essex, Klinger showed his class as early as the third over with a lofted cover-drive that sailed over the ropes at deep-extra cover for six.

Marshall then deposited a full one from Mitch Claydon back over the sightscreen for six, but flailed across the line to his next delivery to go for 19 and leave the visitors on 60 for one after the powerplay.

In a bid to stem the flow of runs Kent used six bowlers within the opening 10 overs to no affect as Gloucestershire coasted to 98 for one at the mid-point.

With no need to attempt risky shots, Klinger teamed up with third-wicket partner Ian Cockbain to add an unruffled, unbroken match-winning stand of 105 in 12.3 overs with Klinger posting a 37-ball 50, and Cockbain also reaching the milestone from the same number of deliveries.

Even the nous of Darren Stevens, Kent’s most experienced T20 performer, failed to halt Gloucestershire’s march as the visitors landed their third win in four starts with more than two overs in hand.

Having won the toss, Kent made a circumspect start as Daniel Bell-Drummond and Sam Billings found timing hard to come by.

Billings, who was called up to the England one-day squad, was promoted to open after Joe Denly’s late withdrawal with a side strain but, at six without loss after two overs, had barely put bat to ball in anger

Billings changed all that in the third over when he marched down the pitch to swat James Fuller back over his head for the first boundary.

Bell-Drummond also opened his boundary account with a maximum slog-sweeping left-arm spinner Tom Smith over mid-wicket as Spitfires posted 50 after five overs.

But, with his score on 26, Billings yorked himself when advancing to Tom Smith to be stumped by Kent’s former gloveman Geraint Jones.

From 54 for one at the end of the powerplay, Kent slid to 84 for four. Bell-Drummond holed out to long-on, Stevens’ luckless run continued when he clipped to Dent on the ropes at deep mid-wicket then.

Benny Howell, who bowled superbly for 3-18, dismissed the competition’s leading run scorer Sam Northeast to leave Kent in a disarray from which they could only limp to 156 for six. It was nowhere near enough.

Afterwards Klinger summed up his side’s comfortable nine-wicket triumph as a ‘clinical effort’. He said: “To win so clinically against a top-of-the-table team in such fantastic T20 form was a super effort.

“A lot of the credit today has to go to our bowlers because I think par score on that wicket and with these boundaries was certainly 180-plus, so to keep them to 156 was superb. It was great work by them to set up a clinical run-chase.

“Benny Howell and our two spinners did a fantastic job thorough the middle period of Kent’s innings. With a strong wind blowing down the ground we knew they would target one end, as we did too, but we built up pressure with dot balls.

“Then it was just down to me and Ian Cockbain, who’s also in good form, to polish the job of on what you might call a clinical effort.”

Spitfires skipper Northeast described his side’s performance as timid, adding: “We never really got going. I don’t think anyone really went out and expressed themselves with the bat, which was disappointing when considering what we have done in this competition to date.

“It felt like, having won four already, that we just expected to turn up and win, but this game doesn’t work like that. Our guys will have to go back individually and have a look at themselves and what they put in tonight.

"We’re still very much in the competition so we’ll dust ourselves off, re-group, and go at the next game a lot harder than we did here tonight.”

Click here for the scorecard