Record breaking night for Kent in T20
Record breaking night for Kent in T20

Kent’s Joe Denly hit a career-best 116 not out as Spitfires chased down 206 in the NatWest T20 Blast to beat Surrey by eight wickets in front of a near 25,000 sell out at The Kia Oval.
Denly carried his bat, hitting 76 of is runs in boundaries – including six sixes – to ease the visitors home with three balls to spare for their second win in three south group starts.

Kent’s reply to Surrey’s 205 for five started in the twilight with Denly seemingly struggling to pick-up the early deliveries as Jade Dernbach conceded only a single in his opening over.

Denly and Daniel Bell-Drummond opened their boundary accounts in the second and third overs of the pursuit, but starved of sixes the crowd entertained themselves by starting a Mexican wave. They soon sat and watched as Denly took the game by the scruff of its neck.

Ravi Rampaul conceded 10 as Kent finished their powerplay on 47 without loss – yet Spitfires were already 33 runs shy of Surrey’s total at the same stage.

Denly upped the tempo with a massive six against off-spinner Gareth Batty into the first tier of the OCS Stand and, in trying to follow suit, Bell-Drummond, on 34, sliced into the deep off Rampaul to be dropped by Dernbach at deep cover.

Denly pulled his sixth four to reach a 32-ball 50 – the 22nd of his T20 career – as Spitfires coasted to 91 without loss at the mid-point of their reply.

The former Middlesex batsman clipped three sixes into the Pavilion in Sibley’s next over to match Finch and Roy by posting a century opening stand to leave Kent needing 94 off the final nine overs for victory.

Bell-Drummond notched his eighth 50 in the format from 36 balls and with five fours then Denly lifted six off Tom Curran to post Kent’s record stand in the format for any wicket, beating Denly and Bell-Drummond’s 151 scored against Surrey in Tunbridge Wells last July.

With only 43 needed the opening stand ended for 163 when Bell-Drummond heaved a Dernbach full-toss to Ollie Pope at deep mid-wicket to go for 64 off 44 balls.

Kent promoted their IPL star Sam Billings to No3 and he soon laced into Dernbach for a four through extra cover, he walked outside off stump to lap a six and four over fine leg against a bemused Sam Curran.

Denly reached his hundred in the 18th over from 54 balls with eight fours and six sixes and made it a competition-best before Billings (16) forced a low Dernbach full-toss into the hands of Tom Curran at deep point to make it 187 for two.

With 17 needed off 12 balls Denly clattered a straight four that almost felled bowler Tom Curran and scampered three to be on strike for the final over from Rampaul with seven needed.

Denly made room to clatter Rampaul’s first delivery to the ropes at extra cover to raise Kent’s 200. Alex Blake sprinted a single to tie the scores but Rampaul’s slow-ball bouncer sailed past Denly over head-height leading to umpire Jeremy Lloyds to call a no ball and spark Kent celebrations.

Batting first on an unusually green-tinted Kia Oval pitch after losing the toss, Surrey made a flying start through Aaron Finch and Jason Roy who plundered 108 for the first wicket.

Surrey’s 50 was on the board after only 28 balls, forcing Kent to introduce the off-spin of James Tredwell for the sixth over. The ploy backfired dreadfully for Kent skipper Sam Northeast as Finch clubbed three successive sixes and, with 23 coming off over, the hosts reached 74 without loss by the end of their powerplay.

Roy raced to a 26-ball 50 with eight fours and then posted his side’s 100 with an impudent flip to the ropes at third man in the ninth over from Mitch Claydon, who ended the over by having Roy caught at long-off off a low full-toss.

In a bid to keep pace off the ball Northeast introduced leg-spinner Denly and was rewarded when Finch dragged on to go for 49 off 25 balls with three fours and as many sixes.

Kumar Sangakkara’s back- foot force against Adam Milne was caught overhead at mid-off by Blake. Milne yorked Dominic Sibley (33) in his final over and then sprinted from his follow-through to run out Sam Curran (1) by kicking the ball onto the stumps at the striker’s end.

Milne finished with two for 33 and Surrey eased past 200 to their second highest T20 total on the ground and set Spitfires a tough asking rate of 10.3 an over for victory.

Kent’s man-of-the-match Denly, who left Surrey shell shocked with his power hitting, said: “Both ‘Deebs’ and I were struggling to pick it up at the start there, not because of the light so much, but because of the background. But it was the kind of wicket where you needed to spend a bit of time getting used to the pace of the ball. After that it was a typical Oval run-chase. It’s a big ground to defend on, so there were lots of gaps, plenty of twos to run which I felt we did really well.

“The pitch was a weird browny-green colour, but the ball came on pretty well and I have to say I didn’t mind batting on it. Daniel was brilliant down the other end. He’s a delightful player, unorthodox at times and has great hands. I think the Surrey boys found him a nightmare to bowl at and it proved a great opening stand as it left us with plenty of wickets in hand.

“Then Bilbo came in to play a nice little knock that really took the pressure off me. It was a great time for him to come in and show off his skills.

“Chasing 206 in front of a packed house at The Oval, it doesn’t get much better than that. Surrey are a fiery bunch on the pitch, but they were very gracious in defeat and to a man they came over and shook my hand.”