Match Report: Kent Spitfires vs. Middlesex

Match Report: Kent Spitfires vs. Middlesex

An explosive century from Joe Denly helped Kent Spitfires to their first win of the season, as they beat Middlesex by 55 runs in the Vitality Blast at Canterbury.

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Denly scored his fifth Blast Dentury, hitting 110 from 58 balls, including a Densational six sixes and nine fours as Kent posted 192 for eight. Jordan Cox was Kent’s next highest scorer with 45, putting on a record second-wicket stand of 157 with Denly.

Chris Green took three for 29 and Martin Andersson three for 32 as Middlesex reined Kent in during the death overs, but they were always behind the run rate and closed on 138 for seven.

Kent Spinners Jack Leaning and George Linde claimed three for 30 and two for 26 respectively as the defending Blast champions finally recorded their first win of the season, in any format.

Having won the toss and chosen to bat, Kent got off to a wretched start when Jason Behrendorff trapped Daniel Bell-Drummond lbw for nought with the third ball of the innings, but the partnership between Denly and Cox transformed the mood in the ground.

Denly dominated the strike, easing to a half Dentury with a single from Toby Greatwood and then thrashing the Middlesex attack. When he drove Andersson to mid-on for a scrambled two to reach three figures, he was embraced by Cox and given a standing ovation by every part of the ground.

Yet having raced to 149 for one from 14 overs, the home crowd, demoralised by Kent’s winless run, seemed disappointed the hosts couldn’t pass 200.

Cox was bowled by Green, who then had Linde caught on the boundary by Luke Hollman. Green then took his third wicket when Denly holed out and was caught on the boundary by Max Holden.

Andersson claimed all of his wickets in the penultimate over. Alex Blake was caught off the second ball by Hollman for 10 and Sam Billings went to the fifth for 5, to a diving catch by Green. Andersson then bowled a wide to Grant Stewart, who skied the next delivery to the same fielder.

When Leaning was run out for six, chasing a second off the final ball of the innings, there was a nagging doubt Kent might have let it slide.

That feeling was briefly compounded when Leaning missed a difficult chance to catch Stevie Eskinazi off Linde in the second over of the chase, but Holden was caught for 12 when he swiped Stewart to Bell-Drummond.

Eskinazi then played on to Qais Ahmad and was bowled for 30 and Joe Cracknell was out for 10 when he hit Linde to Cox at deep midwicket.

Linde then held a violent return catch to remove Andersson for one and although Cox dropped John Simpson over the boundary for six, he was out, for 13, to the next ball when he chipped Leaning to Denly.

Leaning took his second wicket when he had Jack Davies stumped by Billings for eight and his third when Green whacked him to Blake at long on.

Thilan Walallawita took Middlesex past three figures with a six off Leaning but by then the run rate was an unmanageable 24 per over and he was out for 10 when he hit Stewart to Blake. Hollman (23 not out) and Behrendorff (13 not out) flailed to some effect during the death overs, but by that stage the visitors’ hopes had long been extinguished.

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Kent’s Joe Denly said: “It’s been long overdue I think, both some runs for myself and obviously that win, so it’s nice to get the first one under the belt and hopefully we can get on a little run here and you never know.

“It did feel really good. It was a frustrating evening the other night against Surrey, to not really get going in my innings here and fall quite short, so it was nice to go out there and try and play quite freely, try and stay as relaxed as I could. I got a couple out of the middle early on and just kept going. You need a bit of luck whenever you score a century in Twenty20 cricket and this afternoon was my day.

“We spoke about (kicking on). The other night we never really threw a punch against Surrey. Today was just about putting it on their bowlers, I was able to do that in the powerplay and I just felt I could keep going with that momentum. Jordan as well at the other end, it just shows the importance of partnerships. He’s a fine young batter.

“Qais is a world-class performer and although we haven’t won he hasn’t gone for runs. He’s a consistent performer in this format and he showed his class again. He’s particularly tricky to get away, especially in those middle overs. Jack Leaning is a very handy cricketer, especially when they’re packed with left-handers. When it is offering a bit he really gives it a rip. I thought George showed his class as well.

“If you get on a roll in this competition you just never know where it can take you. We’re at Essex on Tuesday and I think we owe them one. It’s the Battle of the Bridge and we always enjoy playing them. They went on an incredible run a couple of years ago at the back end of the competition so we have to take little bits of hope from that and we’re certainly going to gain confidence from this and try and go on a run.”

Next Home Match

Kent host Gloucestershire in the return of the LV= Insurance County Championship at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence.

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