Match Preview: Kent Spitfires v Hampshire Royals

Saturday 23rd June 2012

Men’s First Team

Match Preview: Kent Spitfires v Hampshire Royals

Kent Spitfires v Hampshire Royals – Friends Life t20 – South Division

St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury. Sunday, 24 June, 3pm start

The Kent Spitfires welcome Hampshire to the St Lawrence Ground on Sunday for another must win Friends Life t20 south division clash. The Spitfires took the honours in a nail-biting finish when the two met on Friday night, and another win on Sunday for the hosts will consolidate their position in the upper echelons of the group.

The victory, by just three runs, moved Kent up to third position in the qualifying stages and leaves them well placed.

After being put into bat at the Ageas Bowl on Friday, all of Kent’s batsmen made starts but only Sam Northeast truly cashed in – blasting 46 off 26 balls – to see the visitors up to a respectable 151 for five. Despite another frugal spell from seamer Mark Davies (0-16) a poor start with the ball allowed Hampshire openers Michael Carberry and captain Jimmy Adams to race to a half-century stand, inside the powerplay overs, before the introduction of James Tredwell changed the course of the run chase. The wily off-spinner, who successfully dashed back from England’s washed out ODI against the West Indies in Leeds, accounted for Adams (27), in his first over, and the dangerous James Vince (31). Left-armer Adam Ball (1-20) also played his part in pegging the Royals back as the required run-rate escalated. After Darren Stevens conceded just three runs from his solitary over, the hosts needed a mammoth 36 off the final two overs. Australian Glenn Maxwell and South African Neil McKenzie smashed sixes in Azhar Mahmood’s penultimate over but Matt Coles kept his cool to make up for a profligate opening spell and seal a vital two points for the Spitfires.

The win was in stark contrast to the last time the two teams met in the Garden of England, for a t20 clash last season, when Kent were the unlucky losers at the Nevill Ground after the game was reduced to a five-over lottery. Hampshire took glory that day – thanks to some powerful hitting from their opening batsmen and some class pace-bowling from former England star Simon Jones.

Persistent rain in the Royal Spa Town ruined any chances of a full game being played and once the umpires decided conditions were playable a five-over bash was arranged.

The Royals batted first and, despite being restricted to just 11 runs off their first two powerplay overs by highly-skilled new-ball bowlers Azhar and Charl Langeveldt, they soon ran amok. Left-hander Jimmy Adams bludgeoned three consecutive sixes off Simon Cook’s over before England t20 World Cup winner Michael Lumb went one better by blasting rookie medium-pacer Ball for four maximums in a row. Cook and Ball both went for 28 off their solitary overs and the damage was done before Coles restored some respectability by conceding just 11 runs off the final over. Adams (33 from 15 balls) and Lumb (35 from 11 balls) had powered the Royals up to 78 for one – setting Kent a daunting asking rate of 15.8 runs an over for victory.

The Spitfires, much like their south coast rivals, struggled early on and quickly found themselves even further behind the asking rate. Paceman Jones bowled quick and straight to account for Rob Key and Joe Denly in his single over, which reduced the hosts to 11 for two. By now the required run-rate was above 22 and despite Stevens providing his own brand of pyrotechnics, hitting 45 off 16 balls, Kent fell way short – mustering just 58 for two from their reduced allocation.

Sunday’s clash is important for both sides, and after Friday’s enthralling encounter, another thriller is on the cards so please come along and show your support to Rob Key and the Kent Spitfires.

Tickets can be purchased in advance at the pre buy price of £20 for adults and £5 for under 16s until 1pm Sunday by clicking here.

Tickets will also be available on the gate priced £25 for adults and £8 for under 16s.