Kent Spitfires suffered their first home defeat of this year’s Vitality Blast by the thinnest of margins against oldest rivals Surrey at The Spitfire Ground, St. Lawrence.
Chasing 172 at a tough asking rate of 8.6 an over for their seventh win of the south group campaign, Kent openers Zak Crawley and Daniel Bell-Drummond smashed 19 off Jordan Clark’s third over.
Clark’s misery was compounded when he dropped Bell-Drummond off a skier at cover in the next over from Jade Dernbach as Kent’s openers posted 50 in 5 overs.
Crawley raced to his maiden T20 50 with two fours and three sixes as the Spitfires’ pair posted their century stand in 9.5 overs as Kent swept 26 runs ahead of Surrey’s midpoint score.
Bell-Drummond reached his 19th career T20 half-century from 32 balls and with seven fours but their stand was finally broken for 115 when Mohammad Tahir had Crawley stumped for 59.
With 18 required from 12 balls, Bell-Drummond went for 64 when his sliced drive against Dernbach flew to backward point to heap pressure on Alex Blake and Heino Kuhn.
Blake upper-cut his third ball to deep point leaving Sam Billings and Kuhn to score 12 off the last over from Curran, but it was Curran who held his nerve by conceding nine off the bat to give Surrey a surprise fourth Vitality Blast win.
After a forceful start, Surrey stumbled mid-innings when Kent took pace off the ball, then plundered quick runs at the death through a barrage of Will Jacks’ sixes on their way to posting 171 for seven.
Aaron Finch, who hit 83 here last July at a strike rate of 218.42 – only for the match to be abandoned to rain – clattered 18 off the second over of the night from Kent T20 debutant Matt Milnes but, with 25 to his name, miscued a Fred Klaassen slower ball back to the bowler.
Surrey reached 49 for one by the end of the powerplay, after which Spitfires brought on first-team debutant and Old Tonbridgian Marcus O’Riordan, a 21-year-old off-spinner whose excellent opening over cost only 5 runs.
Kent turned to spin at both ends with the introduction of left-arm spinner Imran Qayyum who had Sam Curran caught at cow corner with his second ball.
Surrey lost further impetus when Bell-Drummond yorked Mark Stoneman, Qayyum squeezed one between the bat and pad to bowl Ben Foakes and then had Ollie Pope stumped by Ollie Robinson as Surrey raised their 100 in the 15th over.
Qayyum finished his four overs with three for 22, after which Hardus Viljoen returned to pluck out middle stump via a bottom edge as Clark aimed to cut.
Will Jacks clattered eight sixes late in the piece on his way to 63 off 27 balls before biffing Klaassen’s last ball of the innings into the hands of long off.
Kent batsman Zak Crawley said: “At the end of our bowling you had a very good young player like Will Jacks, allowed to go out there and hit it, and we’ve conceded 50 off three overs, which obviously wasn’t ideal.
“Then, at the end of our reply, they’ve got bowlers like Dernbach and Curran, both international cricketers, so it’s not easy chasing against guys like that.
“It’s quite rare for us to lose from the position we were in, but Surrey have some proper players and it’s never easy getting over the win line.
“Myself and Dan batting at the top set it up quite well I thought, and if I could have gone on it would have made life easier for the guys coming in, so losing it by one run hurts, it’s just one of those things when you try and take it deep, but tonight, maybe, we took it to deep.”
Credit: ECB Reporters’ Network