Rookie Spitfires put Middlesex to the sword at Canterbury

Saturday 8th August 2009

Darren Stevens top-scored with an unbeaten 75 from 50 balls

Kent v Middlesex NatWest Pro40 Division 2, Canterbury
By Mark Pennell
Former England batsman Owais Shah hit a stunning century in a losing cause as a rookie Kent side landed their first win of the NatWest Pro40 Division 2 campaign by beating neighbours Middlesex by 12 runs in sunny Canterbury.
Shah, back to his wristy, ebullient best, bullied his way to 130 from only 94 balls with 14 fours and four sixes but Kent“s inexperienced seam attack prevailed once the pressure began to mount.
The hosts made five changes to the side that lost to Middlesex in the corresponding championship match on Friday as home skipper Rob Key rested his entire first-choice bowling attack to blood League debutants Matt Coles, Phil Edwards and warren Lee as well as fit-again duo Rob Ferley and Alex Blake.
Responding to Kent“s 40-over total of 258 for four, Middlesex appeared to be struggling once Dawid Malan (8) and Eoin Morgan (8) proffered catches to deep square leg and cover respectively.
Big-hitting Tyron Henderson was then brilliantly run out when attempting a single to mid-off where Darren Stevens made a diving stop and flicked the ball in back-handed to the non-striker“s end to effect the dismissal.
The game was on a knife edge until Shah, just four short of equalling his one-day best, clipped a full-length ball from Indian-born Warren Lee high to mid-off where Justin Kemp ran around to take a stunning catch and virtually assure a home win.
Lee, a 22-year-old right-armer who has played 2nd XI cricket for both Surrey and Middlesex, held his nerve brilliantly at the death to finish with three for 39 as did teenage all-rounder Matt Coles, who also bagged three for 50 on his league bow.
Kent“s innings at the start of the afternoon was built around three half-centuries from Joe Denly (66), Geraint Jones (73) and a cracking unbeaten 75 from only 50 balls by Stevens.
Batting first after winning the toss, Kent lost their skipper Rob Key (4) in the fourth over when he toe-ended an attempted drive against David Burton through to the keeper.
Things started to look bleak when Kent anchorman Martin van Jaarsveld holed out to long-on for 10, but the Spitfires re-grouped with a third wicket stand worth 89 in 17 overs between Denly and Jones.
The partnership ended when Denly, in attempting to hit off-spinner Shaun Udal over his head, miscued to spoon a return catch to the bowler to end his 79 ball stay with 10 fours and a six.
Kent were becalmed for nine overs without scoring a boundary but then Jones then teamed up with Stevens to put the Panthers attack to the sword in adding 95 in 13 overs for the fourth wicket as Kent pressed the run-rate accelerator to thrill a 4,000-plus crowd.
Jones reached his 50 from a relatively sedate 65 balls with only three fours, while Stevens raced to the milestone from only 37 balls with three fours and two sixes.
Jones went for 73 after having his off stump clipped by Tim Murtagh but Stevens clattered on, hitting 42 of his 75 runs in boundaries as Kent set the Panthers a tough asking rate of 6.45 an over.

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