Spitfires win T20 nail-biter at Beckenham

Friday 13th July 2018

Men’s First XI

Vitality Blast

Spitfires win T20 nail-biter at Beckenham

Sam Billings hit a T20 career-best 95* as Kent Spitfires picked up a third win in four matches in the Vitality Blast at The County Ground, Beckenham.

Superb death bowling from Calum Haggett (1/18 off three overs) and Mitch Claydon (1/33 off four) saw Kent home by just three runs after early in-roads from Joe Denly (3/37) who struck twice in the opening over.

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Hampshire captain James Vince won the toss and elected to field before a 36-run opening partnership between Joe Denly and Daniel Bell-Drummond got Spitfires off to an encouraging start before Denly was dismissed by Chris Wood.

After Stevenson took the wicket of Heino Kuhn for 10, Billings took to the crease and built a solid 48-run partnership with Bell-Drummond.

Showing little care for the safety of food stalls around the ground, Kent’s captain hit five sixes as part of a magnificent 70-run stand with Blake, smashing his previous T20 high-score of 78* in the process.

An explosive cameo from West Indian international Carlos Brathwaite (11* from three balls) in the 20th over ensured Hampshire had to chase a target of 211.

Spitfires could not have wished for a better start to the second innings, as Joe Denly took the wickets of Vince and New Zealander Colin Munro in the first over.

The wickets kept tumbling as former Kent skipper Sam Northeast fell for a golden duck to Brathwaite with his first ball in the second, leaving Hampshire a precarious 6-3.

The visitors managed to recover through Rilee Rossouw and Tom Alsop, until Rossouw nicked to Billings off the bowling of Mitch Claydon. His replacement, Liam Dawson, wasted no time in imposing himself at the crease, though Alsop was bowled by Callum Haggett, with rain clouds looming.

Denly took his third wicket as Lewis McManus found Imran Qayyum in the field. With Hampshire requiring 51 off their last five overs, and the threat of rain still imminent, Beckenham was set for an electric finish.

Some excellent economical bowling from Brathwaite, Claydon and Calum Haggett ramped up the pressure on Dawson and new batsman Berg, and Hants went into the final over needing 16 for a win.

A six from the final ball of the match would have sealed the victory for Dawson (now 74*), but Claydon’s death bowling under pressure was impeccable, with a superb yorker sealing a three-run victory for the hosts.

Kent have now won three of their opening four Vitality Blast fixtures, and will face Surrey next up at the Spitfire Ground St Lawrence on Friday.

Scorecard >

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