Match Report: Kent Spitfires vs. Yorkshire Vikings

Match Report: Kent Spitfires vs. Yorkshire Vikings

Kent Spitfires faced Yorkshire Vikings in the first of two home matches in their final ties of Group B in the Royal London Cup.

Grant Stewart hit a last-ball six to give the Kent Spitfires a stunning three-wicket win over the Yorkshire Vikings, in a Royal London Cup thriller at Canterbury.

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Kent went into the final over needing 11 to keep their hopes of qualifying alive and Stewart declined a single off Matthew Revis’s penultimate ball to leave everything riding on the final delivery. The all-rounder then pulled Revis through backward square leg to a huge cheer from the Canterbury crowd, leaving Kent on 297 for seven.

Yorkshire had posted 282 for six from 45 overs, Harry Duke top-scoring with 85, Will Fraine hitting 68 and debutant Finlay Bean 64. After century stands for the first two wickets, Joe Denly took three for 37 to rein Yorkshire in and a Duckworth-Lewis adjustment for a rain delay meant Kent were set a target of 297.

Ben Compton hit 81 and Denly 61 but after reaching 189 for two, miserly Yorkshire bowling saw the run rate spiral above 12 an over until Stewart’s drastic late intervention.

A crowd of over 2,000 at the Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence was boosted by around 80 refugees and Kent even arranged for an interpreter to broadcast announcements in Pashto.

The hosts needed to win to stand any chance of reaching the knock-out stages and with clouds hovering over Canterbury for the first time in what seemed like weeks, they chose to field, but struggled to make any impact early on.

An elegant glance for two from Gilchrist took Fraine to 50, but the breakthrough finally came in the 22nd over when he was lbw to Hamid Qadri.

It was an isolated success for Kent. Duke was on 64 when he was put down by Nathan Gilchrist off his own bowling and he put on 109 for the second wicket with Bean.

However, just as it began to rain, Denly tilted the equation with two wickets in three deliveries.

Bean drove him to Qadri and was caught. Then, with a hundred there for the taking, Duke skied Denly to Alex Blake. When the umpires brought the players off it was the first time there’d been a rain delay at Canterbury this year, but play resumed after an hour with the game reduced to 45 overs per side.

Hill made only five before he was lbw to Denly and Jonathan Tattershall holed out to Stewart in the next over and was caught on the boundary by Nathan Gilchrist.

The rain then returned, the umpires conferred and one of them signalled for the players to go back off, yet after a cry of “get on with it!” from the crowd and with the rain easing to a drizzle they changed their minds and stayed on. Matthew Revis duly drove Navdeep Saini to Denly and was caught for three, before Matthew Waite and Dom Bess restored some momentum with 31 and 13 not out respectively.

Kent’s chase got off to the worst possible start when Joey Evison was out to the first ball of the innings, caught behind off Waite, but Robinson responded by racing past 50 with a six off Tom Loten that cleared the flats on the Old Dover Road side of the ground. Although he fell for 59 to the same bowler in his next over, caught by Revis at square leg, Compton and Denly put on 98 for the next wicket, their stand only ending when Denly miscued trying to pull Revis and was caught by Waite.

Revis then had Alex Blake caught by Bess for three and Kent went 29 balls without a boundary as the pressure mounted. Compton was finally bowled by Waite attempting to reverse sweep and with Waite’s 37th over going for just four, the hosts needed 36 from 18 and then 23 from 12.

Harry Finch was out for 42, pulling Bess to Waite but Stewart smashed Waite back over his head for six, leaving Kent needing 11 from the final over. Harry Podmore sliced Revis’ first ball for four but hit the next down George Hill’s throat. Qadri took a single from the third, the fourth was a dot and Stewart declined a single off the fifth before creaming Revis for six to an eruption of joy from the home fans.

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Kent’s Joe Denly said: “They’re moments you dream of as a cricketer, hitting a six off the last ball to win a game for your team. Credit to Grant, he works very hard at his batting and especially his power game and moments like that make it all worthwhile. I felt that from 30 overs onwards we made life a little bit hard for ourselves, we were cruising a bit and it probably started with myself getting out and Blakey soon after, but Harry Finch came in and played a great little cameo, didn’t take too many risks and supported Ben at the other end as well.

“Ben was our rock at one end and enabled the other lads to come in and play with freedom. It was a good team performance with the bat and it gives us a chance going into the final game. Ollie’s in some rare touch at the moment, I wouldn’t want to be a bowler bowling at him. He set our chase up and the lads coming in were able to keep that momentum going. It certainly put them on the back foot.

“If there was one player I had to pick to hit a six off the last ball, I’d have Grant Stewart every day. He’s built for it, he’s pure muscle, I don’t think there’s an ounce of fat on him!”

Kent’s Grant Stewart said: “You dream of those opportunities and hope they come off. I guess today was one of those days where they actually do come off for once. I put a lot of practice in for moments like this. We’ve still got a big game ahead on Tuesday, so we’re definitely not getting too far ahead of ourselves, but it’s definitely satisfying to get us over the line.

“I’ve batted in that position for a little while now and you look at all the greats like your Dhonis and how calm they are, so you try and emulate their calmness, but you kind of still feel the pressure a little bit. Luckily today it came off for me.

“It was a spur of the moment thing (rejecting a single off the penultimate ball). I’d faced 15 odd balls by then and Hamid had only faced one, so I’d like to think the odds were with me to get us over the line, so I took the risk there and luckily it paid off. The boys set up a platform beautifully. You look at innings like Robbo’s, Compo’s and then Joey in the middle there really set us up. Unfortunately we lost a few wickets in a bit of a clump there and dragged the rate up a little bit, but as we always say, you know that cliché we try and take it deep. Luckily it paid off.

“Finchy played really beautifully. He looked really calm and probably hasn’t had the runs he deserved so it was good to see him get the rewards today. He played a brilliant knock to get us within touching distance. We thought it was a good wicket, I think the rain delay probably helped us, it probably stunted their momentum a little bit. Chasing 300 in 45 overs is always a tough task, but we’ve got some top-drawer batters and we back ourselves to chase most totals.”

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