Stevens inspires Kent’s first cup win at The Nevill

Sunday 21st June 2009

Darren Stevens hit his second cup 50 of the campaign to help Kent to an eight-wicket win
Picture courtesy of Sarah Ansell

Kent v Hampshire, Twenty20 Cup South Division, Tunbridge Wells.
By Mark Pennell
KENT leapfrogged Twenty20 South Division rivals Hampshire with an eight-run victory in the first ever cup game to be staged at Tunbridge Wells,
A crowd approaching 5,000 in the Royal Spa Town remained on the edge of their seats through to the close as Hampshire“s run chase just ran out of steam in pursuit of Kent“s impressive 182 for four.
Kent romped to their second best Cup score of the campaign at a rate of 9.1 an over courtesy of contrasting half-centuries from Darren Stevens and Rob Key and cameo knocks by Joe Denly and Justin Kemp.
Denly, re-selected earlier in the day for the England Lions side to take on Australia at New Road next month, got Spitfires off to a flying start with 26 off 16 balls including the first on nine sixes in the innings straight of left-arm spinner Liam Dawson.
But, after a stand of 37 Denly was bamboozled by a slower ball from Dimitri Mascarenhas, Hawks“ best bowler of the night with 2-19, that he chipped obligingly to long-on.
Martin van Jaarsveld (2) went back in defence in the next over from Mascarenhas only to have his middle stump pegged back by one that kept low and when Geraint Jones (5) missed a sweep against Imran Tahir to lose off stump Kent appeared in a spot of bother at 68 for three.
It was then that Stevens, Kent“s 2007 cup final batting hero, marched in to join Key and turn the game on its head with a blistering stand of 78 in seven overs.
Clearing his left leg out of the line early, Stevens hit the ball cleanly and powerfully to club five sixes and a brace of fours in a magnificent 24-ball 50 – his second in this year“s event.
The highlight came in Sean Ervine“s sole over of the night from the Railway End that cost 23 runs. In his first game back from a hamstring strain, Ervine was guilty of over-pitching and saw Stevens drive him for three successive straight sixes.
Stevens celebrated his with a sixth six off Billy Taylor and it took a stunning piece of fielding by Michael Carberry to finally dislodge him. Driving on the up over extra cover Stevens saw Carberry run from deep cover around to extra cover to claim an excellent catch on the run.
Key went on to reach his first 50 of the season in all forms of cricket from 49 balls and with five fours, indeed the Kent skipper went on to double his previous best of a disappointing summer with two late fours in the final over.
Kemp kept the board ticking at a rapid rate with two more sixes in adding 16 in seven balls including a six off the last ball of the innings from Cork whose four wicket-less overs cost 52.
Hampshire“s reply was given a cracking good start by former Yorkshire opener Michael Lumb, a one-time dour left-hander who is now finding his feet in this form of the game.
His rugged, no nonsense knock included 11 fours and a six as he powered to 50 in 29 balls and 59 from 32 in total for his part in an opening stand of 71 with Jimmy Adams.
Lumb“s fun ended when he ran down the pitch to drive at Ryan McLaren only to get a toe end through to Jones then, off the very next ball, Adams (11) lost his off stump to a James Tredwell arm ball.
Hampshire“s mid-innings crisis continued when Sean Ervine holed out to long-on from Steven“s second ball of the night to make it 90 for three and put Hampshire behind on the Duckworth Lewis method for the first time.
But with Carberry hitting the gaps for twos and threes and sprinting singles like a whippet and Chris Benham finding the boundary at regular intervals Hampshire clawed their way back into contentions with a fourth wicket stand of 72 in eight overs.
They took 19 off the 18th over from James Tredwell and, with 22 needed off 18 balls and with seven wickets in hand, The Hawks were now favourites.
It was two run outs in the penultimate over from Azhar Mahmood that tipped the balance Kent“s way again. Carberry (39) went first, wanting two to deep cover he turned and slipped over to be run out by van Jaarsveld“s throw from deep cover.
Mascarenhas then went the same way in risking a second to McLaren“s arm 50 yards away at long on to make it 169 for five.
With 14 needed off the final over from McLaren, Benham“s 23-ball stay for 36 ended when he missed a yorker then, with the game all but over, Nic Pothas ran himself out wanting a sneaky bye to Jones.
With four wins from seven starts Kent will now fancy their chances of making the knock-out stages of the Twenty20 for the fourth year in succession.

Photo by ARPics