Spitfires downed by Glamorgan at Canterbury
Spitfires downed by Glamorgan at Canterbury

Half-centuries by Jacques Rudolph and Aneurin Donald coupled with a frugal two-over stint of one for 12 by Craig Meschede helped Glamorgan extend their leadership of the NatWest T20 Blast south group with an emphatic 25-run win over Kent.

Rudolph’s captain’s knock of 77 not out from 52 balls saw Glamorgan post 199 for 2 on an excellent Canterbury pitch – a pursuit that proved too tough for Spitfire’s despite Joe Denly’s 68 as the hosts fell well short with a 20-over total of 174 for four.

Looking for their fourth south group win, Kent’s chase started with panache when Joe Denly straight drove Michael Hogan’s fourth delivery for a straight six.

At the other end Daniel Bell-Drummond went for three, dragging the ball on to middle stump in attempting to cut Lukas Carey’s third delivery of the afternoon to bring in Spitfires’ skipper Sam Northeast with only 21 on the board.

Denly clattered hit the ropes three times as Graham Wagg’s first over of left-arm seam went for 13 to move past the 300-run milestone in this year’s Blast, yet Kent were still 10 behind the visitors come the end of the powerplay.

Northeast upped the tempo with a swept six against Colin Ingram’s wrist spin and, with spin at both ends, Denly repeated the dose against Andrew Salter to keep Kent ticking at eight-an-over.

Hitting to the shortest boundary on the Old Dover Road side of the ground, Northeast cleared the ropes again against Ingram as did Denly over extra cover against Wagg as Spitfires reached 93 for one at the mid-point of their reply.

After taking a wicket and conceding only two in his opening over, Carey leaked 17 in his second over as Northeast cantered to a 28-ball 50 with four sixes.

Northeast (60) holed out to deep mid-wicket when targeting another six off Marchant de Lange to end a second-wicket stand of 89 and bring in left-hander Alex Blake, but Denly continued serenely, lofting Wagg for a third maximum in a 36-ball half-century.

Blake (4) chipped to long-off in Craig Meschede’s first over to be replaced by all-rounder Jimmy Neesham, but suddenly the boundaries dried up and, with 36 required from the last five overs, Kent slipped behind the Duckworth/Lewis/Stern rate for the first time.

Wagg had his revenge by having Denly (68) caught on the ropes at deep mid-wicket and Kent’s outside victory hopes went with him.

Bowling first after winning the toss, Kent made two changes to the side that beat Somerset on Friday night. Having suffered a recurrence of a thigh injury New Zealand paceman Adam Milne was replaced by Calum Haggett, while veteran off-spinner James Tredwell was preferred to rookie left-armer Imran Qayyum.

Glamorgan made a watchful start through openers Jacques Rudolph and Aneurin Donald, who opened their side’s boundary account in the third over when Matt Coles leaked 15 runs.

Jimmy Neesham also conceded 15 from his second over as Glamorgan completed their powerplay overs without alarm in reaching 62 without loss.

Taking a low risk approach to batting by keeping the ball on the turf with proper cricket strokes, the visiting openers complimented each other superbly and kept the board ticking just as nicely.

Donald was first to his 50 from 30 balls only to lose his middle stump when playing across the line to Haggett’s very next delivery that made it 88 for one.

Glamorgan dangerman Colin Ingram marched in with 275 runs already to his name in this season’s Blast and – with his side on 93 for one at the mid-point of their innings – appeared intent on accelerating the run rate.

Rudolph raised Glamorgan’s 100 with an impudent reverse flick for six off Haggett then left-hander Ingram cleared the ropes with a slog sweep off the next delivery from Tredwell. But, with his score on 11, Ingram risked a lofted straight drive off Matt Coles and miscued high to long-off where Daniel Bell-Drummond took a stunning catch on the run.

Rudolph cantered to his 50 from 35 balls and finished unbeaten on 77 from 52, while David Miller contributed a useful 43 not out from 25 balls, plundering 19 off Mitch Claydon’s last over to set Spitfires a tough asking rate of 10 an over for victory.

Jacques Rudolph, Glamorgan’s top-scorer, said: “It was difficult for me to get the ball away in the beginning but Aneurin Donald played unbelievably well. He really got our momentum going and his 50 off 30 balls was just what we needed up front. As the innings progressed I felt that the wicket was getting a little slower and we had to get a little clever with our shot-making.

“I said at the start that we set up really well with our batting line-up at the moment and that gives us quite a bit of freedom up front.”

He added: “It’s not foreign territory for us to defend a decent total. A lot of times when we’ve played this summer you come up against the likes of Michael Klinger and Joe Denly, guys that can give their side’s greats starts, so our bowlers have had to stay patient and stick to their processes. You only need to take one or two wickets quickly and it really slows the run rate and that’s exactly what happened today.”

Kent counterpart Sam Northeast conceded his side had leaked too many runs. “I thought 199 for two was above par and we aren’t bowling as well as we can do in this competition. We’re missing our injured overseas bowler Adam Milne and we let them get away to a string start and never pulled it back. The last two overs went for 14 then 19, and
though Mitch Claydon bowled really well generally, he was facing two high-class batsmen an there was nothing he could do.

“At one stage I thought we were going really well in the chase, but you have a few bad overs, you go right behind the rate then for the guys coming in it becomes really tough. When you have go for 12 an over when you first come in its never easy and Glamorgan are top of the table for a reason, they have powerful hitters and guys who bowl well up front and at the death. Yes, they’re a good side, but we were disappointing today.”