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Northeast guides Spitfires to victory
Northeast guides Spitfires to victory

Kent skipper Sam Northeast hit the winning boundary and finished with an unbeaten 54 as Kent secured a seven-wicket win under the Duckworth/Lewis/Stern method over Somerset in a rain-affected NatWest T20 Blast clash at Canterbury.

Pursuing a revised target of 181 from 18 overs, Northeast kept a cool head in cantering to a 26-ball half-century that ensured his side’s seventh straight south group win over their West Country visitors.

Originally chasing 198 for their third win of the campaign, Spitfires were given a flying start as in-form openers Daniel Bell-Drummond and Joe Denly dashed to 77 by the end of the powerplay.

Denly clattered eight, technically correct fours in his 44 from 20 balls, while Bell-Drummond, making room and going aerial, hit the ropes six times in an unbeaten 32 off 16 deliveries.

With the floodlights taking full effect, rain arrived just before 9pm forcing the players off the field with Spitfires already 30 ahead on the D/L/S rate. After a rapid mop-up and the loss of two overs, play resumed 38 minutes later with Kent chasing a revised target of 181.

Needing a further 104 from their remaining 12 overs at an asking rate of 8.66 per over Denly and Bell-Drummond faced spin at both ends after the resumption and leg-spinner Max Waller struck almost immediately by bowling Denly off his pads for 46 as the right-hander flicked to leg.

Waller then had Bell-Drummond (39) caught on the ropes at long on and, with no pace to work with for their strokes, Kent’s batsmen suddenly appeared clueless in their quest for boundaries.

They were given respite with the return of pace bowling. Craig Overton conceded the first boundaries in three overs with Alex Blake cracking four and Sam Northeast six over long on. Then

Northeast hit the biggest six of the night as Tim Groenewald conceded 16 to leave Kent needing 50 off their last six overs.

Lewis Gergory returned to clean up Alex Blake (20) and bring in Sam Billings with 29 needed off 20 balls, but Somerset’s gamble on giving Waller a fourth over backfired as Northeast plundered 16 runs to move to his 50 with two fours and three maximums in steering Kent over the win line.

Batting first after winning the toss, Somerset posted a testing target of 197 for six built around half-centuries from Steven Davies and Johann Myburgh.

The third-placed visitors suffered an early blow when Lewis Gregory (1) miscued Jimmy Neesham’s slow-ball bouncer to mid-on to go to the fifth ball of the night.

Somerset recovered from the loss courtesy of a rare seven in the third over when Sam Billings’ needless under-arm shy to the non-striker’s end went for four after Jim Allenby and Davies had already scampered three as 18 came off the over, Adam Milne’s first.

Steven Davies pulled the first six of the match to raise Somerset’s 50 from 26 balls and Allenby repeated the dose two balls later after which Milne, in his first game back after a thigh injury, limped off after sending down two overs for 34 and never returned.

Spitfires’ rookie left-arm spinner Imran Qayyum hit back with his second delivery having Allenby (25) caught behind off a skied sweep, leaving Davies to march to his 23-ball 50 with five fours and two sixes.

Kent kept pace off the ball through leg-spinner Denly who also struck in his first over enticing Davies (62) to chip to deep-mid-wicket and make it 99 for three in the 11th over.

Qayyum switched ends only to be biffed for six over extra cover by Myburgh, who then laced one leg-side and into the building site constructing retirement flats adjacent to the ground as Qayyum closed with one for 47.

James Hildreth (11) threw the kitchen sink at one from Matt Coles to be caught behind but the diminutive Myburgh continued to go big, five sixes on his way to a 27-ball 50.

Kent continued to feed Myburgh with short stuff and he obliged by clubbing a Coles’ half-tracker over the ropes at mid-wicket but, with 64 to his name off 35 balls, the South African miscued an umpteenth pull to the keeper to give Mitch Claydon deserved figures of one for 25 before Peter Trego (26) fell to a last ball run out.

Allenby, the defeated skipper, said: “Steve Davies and Johann Myburgh played great knocks and I felt we were ahead of par with 197 for six, but it wasn’t to be.

“I think the going off for that break helped us re-group and re-access what we were doing, but the rain clearly didn’t help because it made the ball skid on that little bit better.

“We’ve been playing well and one little blip tonight doesn’t mean we’re a bad side. We’ve had four good games in a row, so there is no need to scrap any plans or go back to the drawing board. We’ll just get it right next time.”

Northeast, the man of the match, said: “I don’t think we bowled that well and their 197 was above the par score, but get off to a flyer in the powerplay when ‘Deebs’ and Joe played seriously well. They put us in a commanding position.

“It got a bit nervy after the rain and in the middle there, but it was great to get a win and I hope we can build a bit of momentum from it.

“We had to hard at the start because it was skidding on nicely and we told them to keep going. I played a few big swats that didn’t connect to start with, but it was nice to contribute to the win and hit a few out the middle at the end there.”


 
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