Kuhn steers Kent into One Day semis
Kuhn steers Kent into One Day semis

Former South African international Heino Kuhn powered Kent Spitfires through to a spot in the semi-finals of the Royal London One-Day Cup and ended Notts Outlaws’ reign as holders in the process.

Kuhn scored an unbeaten 124, making his runs from 114 deliveries, as the Spitfires romped to a convincing nine-wicket victory at Trent Bridge. The 34-year old shared in an opening stand of 194 – a county record against Notts – with Daniel Bell-Drummond, who made 79. Joe Denly applied the finishing touches, by blazing his way to an undefeated 52 from only 28 balls.

Steven Mullaney had top-scored with 90 for Notts, who had posted 255 for eight after being inserted, making his runs from 108 balls with eight fours.

Luke Fletcher added a career-best 53 not out for the holders but it always appeared to be a below-par total, with Harry Podmore taking four for 57 with the ball.

In pursuit of 256 Kuhn and Bell-Drummond wasted little time in settling the outcome. They were untroubled in racing to 76 from the opening 10 overs and Kuhn’s fifty came from only 40 balls faced.

The blustery conditions of late morning gave way to bright sunshine and the boundary tally accelerated briskly. Kun hit 11 fours and two sixes in his 87-ball century – his third in this season’s competition.

Bell-Drummond surrendered his wicket by charging the spin of Matt Carter and was stumped but his departure allowed Denly to brutally club five enormous sixes to shatter the dreams of the home supporters.

Earlier, the defending champions were indebted to two of their senior players for passing 250. The in-form Mullaney, named this week as captain of the England Lions for their forthcoming triangular series, held the innings together after arriving at the crease with his side in trouble at 23 for four.

Mullaney shared in stands of 70 with Samit Patel and 79 with Billy Root to get the Outlaws back on track but with five overs remaining he sliced Podmore to short third man.

Fletcher then took over, dominating a stand of 57 with Matt Carter, with both players hitting two sixes. In a frenzied late assault Fletcher went past his previous one-day best, an unbeaten 40 scored against Durham way back in 2009, to post a 32-ball half-century.

The opening stages of the Outlaws’ innings had seen the holders’ grip on the trophy hanging by a fine thread as Podmore took three of the four wickets that fell in the opening powerplay.

Chris Nash and Tom Moores both edged behind and Riki Wessels pulled the former Middlesex seamer straight into the hands of deep square leg.

The other early departure was that of New Zealand international Ross Taylor, who made just one before being pinned lbw by fellow Kiwi Matt Henry.

Kent will now face Worcestershire at New Road in Sunday’s semi-final.

Heino Kuhn, having scored 124 not out, his third century of this year’s competition, was pleased to have played his part in the win:

“We feel very happy and it’s been a good day. I always play to win trophies and this has brought us a little bit closer, two more games and I think if we can play anywhere near as well as we played today then there’s a good chance we can get to the final and pick up the trophy.

“The bowlers definitely did the hard work today Podders (Harry Podmore) and Matt Henry won us the game and the fielding was good as well. To restrict them to 250 was an unbelievable effort, 300 was par on there. It was a very nice wicket to bat on but all credit must go to the bowlers.

“Daniel (Bell-Drummond) and I go out to bat to enjoy our cricket. I play with intent – if it’s there to hit it, I do – and we run hard as well. That played a big part today and batting with Daniel is so nice because we complement each other.”

Meanwhile, Harry Podmore, who tookl four wickets, revealed he wouldn’t have played had Mitch Claydon not tweaked a groin in pre-match practice:

“I wasn’t down to play because this came off the back of a long four-day game and Mitch has been playing in the white ball stuff but unfortunately his groin was a bit sore. So it was nice to get the nod.”

“It was a good toss to win and it was bowler-friendly conditions, so that helped in our favour with our seam bowlers. There was a little bit of nip and with the new ball it skidded on if you hit good areas. I’m really enjoying my time at Kent and my aim was to come here and perform and play as much first team cricket as I can and contribute when I do.”

For Steven Mullaney, the Notts captain, it was a disappointing defeat for the holders:

“Obviously, from 24 for four you aren’t going to win many games. I thought it was a lovely wicket, maybe a little bit tricky early on. We would have had a bowl first but I thought it was around a 320-par wicket and even then, with the way they were batting, it might not have been enough.

“When we’d lost those first few wickets we said 250 or above would be great but that was one of the best wickets we’ve played on this season and we just haven’t been consistent enough with the bat in this tournament and eventually it catches up with you.”