Stevens stars with the bat but Spitfires crash to defeat at The Nevill

Tuesday 8th June 2010

Darren Stevens cracked an unbeaten 50 from 30 balls in a losing cause

Kent v Sussex Friends Provident t20 South Group, Tunbridge Wells
By Mark Pennell
Kent crashed to their second successive Friends Provident t20 defeat by four wickets and with only two balls remaining as title-holders Sussex held their nerve to seal their third South Group win on the trot at Tunbridge Wells.
Visiting skipper Michael Yardy pulled a slow ball bouncer from Azhar Mahmood to the ropes at deep backward square tohand his side victory in front of a crowd of nearly 5,000 at the Royal Spa Town club ground.
Chasing Kent“s workmanlike, if unspectacular total of 163 for five, Sussex made the best of starts through Kiwi Brendon McCullum and Matt Prior who raced to 55 inside eight overs before Spitfires finally struck.
McCullum, on 16 from 19 balls and with three fours, clipped one from James Tredwell high to deep mid-wicket where Joe Denly ran round from long-on to take the catch.
Denly and Tredwell, who bagged two for 32, combined again in near identical fashion to account for Murray Goodwin (9) then Prior, having hit seven fours and a six from 34 balls, missed out on his 50 by three runs when mistiming a drive against Darren Stevens to be snaffled up at short mid-wicket.
Luke Wright misread one from wrist spinner Malinga Bandara to be bowled for 21 and with five overs remaining Sussex required a further 44 six wickets remaining.
Bandara also struck in his final over to finish with two for 34. Drawing Chris Nash down the pitch he turned one through the gate to peg back off stump and send the right-hander packing for 24 from 11 balls.
Joe Gatting (8) fell in the penultimate over but, with only four needed from the final over Yardy wrapped up a man-of-the-match display by hitting the winning four to finish unbeaten on 36 from 23 balls.
After playing out a maiden from Robin Martin-Jenkins“ first over of the game Kent lost their first wicket in the seamer“s second over, the third of the innings.
Denly fell for five with one boundary as early as the second over when he heaved across the line to be bowled by Martin-Jenkins.
Rob Key joined forces with Martin van Jaarsveld to add 47 for the second wicket inside six overs but then Key (23), in aiming to run a quicker delivery from Yardy down to third man for a single, both missed the ball and dragged his back foot to be smartly stumped by Andrew Hodd.
South African van Jaarsveld also chipped and chased his way to 23, never appearing comfortable on a two-paced pitch, and he finally holed out to long-on off Chris Nash where Matt Prior, playing as an outfielder, ran around the boundary edge and knocked the ball up before taking the catch at the second attempt.
Kent formed another useful alliance between Geraint Jones (32) and in-form Stevens, who again top-scored for the hosts with an unbeaten 52 having scored 197 here in last week“s championship fixture against Nottinghamshire.
The fourth-wicket pair doubled the score and had reached 137 when Jones (32), in attempting to pull a length ball from Yasir Arafat found a top edge to be caught by the bowler off a skier.
Stevens and Azhar Mahmood maintained the momentum with a rash of late boundaries, Mahmood clattered three to the ropes in his 16 from eight balls while Stevens reached his half-century from the last ball of the innings with a back foot carve through extra cover off Yasir Arafat for four.
In all Stevens faced only 30 balls and his two sixes to go with his four boundaries as Kent rattled along at 8.15 to set the Sharks a testing target.