Match Report: Kent Spitfires vs. Northamptonshire Steelbacks

Match Report: Kent Spitfires vs. Northamptonshire Steelbacks

Northamptonshire Steelbacks were Kent Spitfires’ first of three opponents at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence in the Royal London Cup.

Ben Compton helped steer the Kent Spitfires to a four-wicket win over the Northamptonshire Steelbacks in Royal London Cup at Canterbury, keeping their hopes of qualifying for the knock-out stages alive.

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Compton anchored Kent’s chase with a typically measured 87 as the hosts closed on 210 for six, chasing down Northamptonshire’s 210 all out with seven overs remaining.

The relatively modest target was largely down to Hamid Qadri, who took four for 36 and ran out Rob Keogh, as Kent stifled the Steelbacks in the field. Emilio Gay was their top scorer with 49.

Keogh took two for 35 and Nathan Buck two for 38, but despite a couple of wobbles, Kent ran out convincing winners.

The Steelbacks’ decision to bat first in sweltering conditions initially seemed vindicated as Gay and Ricardo Vasconcelos raced to 59 without loss.

However, the partnership was broken when Qadri bowled the latter for 31 and although Will Young got a start, when Joe Denly had him caught behind for 20, Northamptonshire collapsed from 90 for one, failing to bat out their overs.

Saif Zaib made just five when Qadri lured him into a false shot that was caught on the boundary by Harry Finch and Qadri then seized on a mix-up to run out Keogh for 11. Qadri then caught and bowled Gay, had Lewis McManus caught by Navdeep Saini for eight and was denied a fully deserved five-wicket bag when Compton dropped Buck at slip.

Buck had added only eight runs before he was bowled by Denly for 10, by which point the visitors seemed unsure whether to hit out or hang around. They ended up doing neither: James Sales lasted 57 balls but had only made 23 before he shanked Tawanda Muyeye’s second ball to Saini.

Brandon Glover took the Steelbacks to 200 but was out for 17 trying to hit Joey Evison over the square leg boundary and instead finding the inrushing Alex Blake, who took the catch at the second attempt.

Ben Sanderson lasted 50 balls and also made 17, before he holed out to Nathan Gilchrist and was caught by Muyeye, ending the innings with 3.1 overs remaining.

Even on a greenish wicket it looked well below par, until Buck struck twice in the sixth over of the chase. Muyeye was the first to go, victim of a juggling catch by Young at slip and Ollie Robinson then survived a loud lbw appeal before he was bowled by the next ball.

Compton and Denly tilted the momentum back in Kent’s favour with a stand of 83 that ended when the latter tried to pull Keogh through cow corner and was caught by Gay for 42.

Visiting hopes flickered when Finch went for eight, driving Alex Russell to Keogh at silly mid-off, but Compton eased past 50 with three off the same bowler and he and Blake were happy to whittle away at the target in ones and twos.

When Blake charged down the wicket to Keogh he was stumped by McManus for 20, but by then Kent only needed 41. Evison (16 not out) had helped chop the deficit to just one when Compton was caught by Gay off Glover, leaving Qadri to slice the winning boundary through the slip cordon.

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Kent’s Hamid Qadri said: “It was a good game for the team, obviously we needed to win today. The boys showed a lot of character and to go out there and field and bowl the way we did was outstanding. Obviously I bowled ok, personally, but the most important thing was to get off to a winning start, which is crucial.

“Denners [Joe Denly] always backs me up and uses me as a threat. Obviously my job is to get wickets and today it was my day on that wicket. I’ve played against Keogh quite a lot of times and he can be destructive, he can take the game away from you, so it was nice to get a run out. I think it was the first for us in the competition so far, so it was nice to have a bit of a buzz and create a bit of energy in the field.

“I’m glad Ben [Compton] had that innings and won us the match after dropping that catch! For him to go out and play that innings on a tricky wicket that was spinning sideways was outstanding. It was just a shame he didn’t finish it off.

“Looking at the wicket we would have liked to have batted first regardless. As you saw, the ball did turn a lot and the pitch deteriorated. Coming here this morning we thought 240, 260 was a good score, I think they were just 30 or 40 runs under par. It’s good to win and to bowl the way we did, with guys chipping in.”

Kent take on both Yorkshire & Lancashire at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence in the Royal London Cup during the Summer Holidays

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