Match Report: Middlesex vs. Kent Spitfires

Match Report: Middlesex vs. Kent Spitfires

Kent Spitfires went on the road as Lord’s was the venue for their first away match of two in two days – facing Middlesex in the Vitality Blast.

The Kent Spitfires will welcome Middlesex to ‘Fortress Canterbury’ in a floodlit, Friday night T20 match on 23 June.

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Max Holden’s magnificent century spearheaded a valiant Middlesex chase in the Vitality Blast, but it was not enough as they fell short of a record Lord’s T20 total by Kent Spitfires.

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Holden led his side’s assault on an improbable target of 229 with a career-best T20 knock of 121 not out from 59 balls to maintain the Seaxes’ hopes of finally breaking their duck in the tournament.

But Kent held on for their second successive South Group win, having posted 228 for three thanks to Daniel Bell-Drummond, who struck 66 from 42 before Joe Denly savaged his former side’s ragged bowling attack with an unbeaten 73 from 37.

The Spitfires remain in contention but, although Middlesex’s reply equalled their sixth best total in Blast history, they remain without a point after suffering their ninth straight defeat.

The home side conceded 24 extras, with neither of their main seamers able to complete a full four overs – Tom Helm withdrawn from the fray for bowling too many above waist height and Blake Cullen limping off injured.

Having won the toss and chosen to bat, the Spitfires made steady progress as opening pair Tawanda Muyeye and Bell-Drummond shared a partnership of 88 – their fourth in excess of 50 in the last five Blast games.

Bell-Drummond, who called for a change of bat in the third over, immediately confirmed his new selection to be a good one by dispatching his next two deliveries from Cullen for six and four.

Muyeye took longer to get into his stride, slicing Martin Andersson over gully for his first boundary, but he followed that up with a straight drive over the rope as Kent powered along at around 10 an over.

Having been caught at backward point off a Cullen no-ball, Muyeye failed to capitalise and skied to deep midwicket later in the same over for 38, but his replacement Denly proceeded to find the gaps with expertise.

Bell-Drummond thumped Luke Hollman to the fence to bring up his half-century, although he missed the chance to convert that into a ton when Cullen slanted one back into him and Helm took a diving catch at point.

It was left to Denly, who reached his first 50 of the campaign from 28 and Sam Billings – rounding off the innings with an enormous six off Ryan Higgins – to steer the Spitfires to their fourth-best total in T20 cricket.

The daunting 229 target always looked beyond Middlesex’s reach, compounded when they lost openers Joe Cracknell and Stephen Eskinazi inside the first three overs of their reply, both falling to top edges that were comfortably clasped by Billings.

However, Holden displayed defiance, thrashing Fred Klaassen and Kane Richardson for sixes as the latter’s first over disappeared for 20 and he and Higgins – promoted to three – shared a spirited stand of 77 from 35.

Michael Hogan seemed to have scuppered any Middlesex hopes of a successful chase, stooping to grab a return catch and dismiss Higgins for 35 from 22 before Richardson returned to pick up two wickets in four balls.

But Holden kept going with a combination of timing and power, slamming Hogan for two sixes and then cutting him over slip for a four that took him to his second Blast hundred from 49 deliveries.

However, the left-hander’s brave effort was ultimately in vain as Middlesex – needing 24 from the final over – could only manage 10.

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Kent’s Joe Denly, who top-scored with 73 not out from 37 balls, said:“Those two (opening pair Daniel Bell-Drummond and Tawanda Muyeye) seem to click really nicely together, they’re good friends off the pitch and they’ve been getting us off to some decent starts.

“It was as good a wicket as I’ve played on at Lord’s and it was important for me to come in and continue that momentum the two openers had got us off to.

“It was good to get over the line in another entertaining game, thankfully we were on the right end of it. The way Max Holden played, let’s not forget that – it was a pretty special innings.

“We recognise it hasn’t been a great competition previous to these last two games, but teams have done it before – they’ve got on a roll and finished really strongly. So you never know, if we keep winning and results go our way, we’ve always got a sniff.”

Friday night T20s are back!

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Members do not need to pre-book their space at T20 matches as per last season – entry will be gained by scanning a valid 2023 Kent Cricket Membership card at the gate.

Should seated areas such as the Frank Woolley Stand also sell-out, an allocation is set aside for Members & Six Pack Plus Ticket Holders.