Denly stars as Spitfires victorious
Denly stars as Spitfires victorious

Joe Denly had a night to remember as he scored a hundred and then took a hat-trick as Kent Spitfires beat Surrey by six runs in their Vitality Blast opener at the Kia Oval.

In front of a crowd of 23,291 Denly made 102 from 63 balls, helping the Spitfires to 173 for 6 after they had won the toss.

Surrey were on course for a successful chase when they reached 135 for 3 in the 13th over with Ben Foakes going well before Denly, bowling his occasional leg breaks, made another decisive contribution. Rikki Clarke was stumped coming down the track, Jamie Smith lbw padding up and Matt Pillans caught by wicketkeeper Sam Billings off a top-edge into the leg side.

Freddie van den Bergh and Morne Morkel departed cheaply to leave Surrey needing 18 off 16 balls but Foakes took a precious boundary off Carlos Brathwaite in the 19th over to get the equation down to nine off 12 balls with two wickets in hand.

However, he could only watch at the other end as New Zealander Adam Milne sealed victory by yorking Gareth Batty and having Jade Dernbach caught behind off successive balls. Surrey were bowled out for 167 with seven balls unused and Foakes was left stranded on 75 not out.

It was quite a night for Denly, who passed 4,500 T20 runs during an innings where he seldom took any risks, ruthlessly punishing anything short or wide instead.

His stand of 104 off 66 balls with Heino Kuhn for the second wicket laid the foundations for Kent’s formidable total.

The Spitfires looked on course for more than 200 when Denly was in full flow but they were pegged back by Pillans, who finished with 3 for 22 including Denly, who drove wearily to long on in the final over after striking 12 fours and two sixes.

Pillans also picked up debutant Brathwaite, who was brilliantly caught by the diving Smith, and skipper Sam Billings (14). Surrey skipper Dernbach, who had removed Daniel Bell-Drummond for a second-ball duck in the first over, returned to pick up Alex Blake as he finished with 2 for 32.

Surrey’s reply began well. Foakes and opener Rory Burns needed just 40 balls as they thrashed 85 for the second wicket after the early loss of Will Jacks. Seamer Ivan Thomas came in for particular punishment as his two overs disappeared for 37 runs.

Even when Burns (39) lost his leg stump trying to work Callum Haggett down the leg side and Ollie Pope fell cheaply Surrey needed 65 from 64 balls with six wickets in hand. Denly, though, had other ideas and Surrey, who were without five internationals including their Australian pair Aaron Finch and Nic Maddinson, were left to reflect on a second successive defeat.

Joe Denly, who scored 102 and took a hat-trick was thrilled with how the evening went for the Spitfires:
“It’s very pleasing, and most importantly we got a win. We’ve had some tight games this season and to claw it back in the way we did was amazing and showed the spirit in the camp.”
“The Oval is always a decent place to bat, but the outfield was slower than normal and Surrey made scoring boundaries tough by mixing up their pace a bit. I thought at halfway we were 10-15 runs short and that it might take a special bowling performance to win it – although I didn’t expect it would be me!”
“I may have taken a hat-trick in the garden before but not out in the middle and if I’m honest it was a naughty hat-trick ball, caught down the leg side, but I’ll take it because it got us back in the game.”
“As a specialist batsman the century probably means more to me but I’ll take the hat-trick – it was a very nice moment.”
Meanwhile, Matt Pillans the Surrey bowler, was disappointed to have lost a game Surrey should have won:
“It’s a defeat that is going to hurt because it looked good for us when (Ben) Foakes and (Rory) Burns were going so well. Credit to Kent for the way they came back at us but we need to learn the lessons and come back with a strong belief in our next game.”
“Personally, it was a nice moment to get my first T20 wickets for Surrey. There was a big crowd but I got rid of the nerves and just focussed on what I had to do. We have spoken as a bowling unit about bowling well at the death and I thought we did that.”