Spitfires stunned by last ball defeat
Spitfires stunned by last ball defeat

Kent Spitfires suffered their second batting calamity of the week as they tossed away a winning position to lose their Vitality Blast south group qualifier to Surrey by one run at shell-shocked Canterbury.

Just three days after being skittled for 40 in a county championship defeat to Essex, Kent grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory to suffer their fourth reverse and their first on home soil in this year’s T20 event.

Chasing 172 at a tough asking rate of 8.6 an over for their seventh win of the south group campaign Kent openers Zak Crawley and Daniel Bell-Drummond smashed 19 off Jordan Clark’s third over.

Clark’s misery was compounded when he dropped Bell-Drummond off a skier at cover in the next over from Jade Dernbach as Kent’s openers posted 50 in 5 overs.    

Crawley raced to his maiden T20 50 with two fours and three sixes as the Spitfires’ pair posted their century stand in 9.5 overs as Kent swept 26 runs ahead of Surrey’s midpoint score.

Bell-Drummond reached his 19th career T20 half-century from 32 balls and with seven fours but their stand was finally broken for 115 when Mohammad Tahir had Crawley stumped for 59.  

With 18 required from 12 balls Bell-Drummond went for 64 when his sliced drive against Dernbach flew to backward point to heap pressure on Alex Blake and Heino Kuhn.

Blake upper-cut his third ball to deep point leaving Sam Billings and Kuhn to score 12 off the last over from Curran, but it was Curran who held his nerve by conceding nine off the bat to give Surrey a surprise fourth Vitality Blast win.

After a forceful start, Surrey stumbled mid-innings when Kent took pace off the ball, then plundered quick runs at the death through a barrage of Will Jacks’ sixes on their way to posting 171 for seven.

Aaron Finch, who hit 83 here last July at a strike rate of 218.42 – only for the match to be abandoned to rain – clattered 18 off the second over of the night from Kent T20 debutant Matt Milnes but, with 25 to his name, miscued a Fred Klaassen slower ball back to the bowler.

Surrey reached 49 for one by the end of the powerplay, after which Spitfires brought on first-team debutant and Old Tonbridgian Marcus O’Riordan, a 21-year-old off-spinner whose excellent opening over cost only 5 runs.

Kent turned to spin at both ends with the introduction of left-arm spinner Imran Qayyum who had Sam Curran caught at cow corner with his second ball.

Surrey lost further impetus when Bell-Drummond yorked Mark Stoneman, Qayyum squeezed one between the bat and pad to bowl Ben Foakes and then had Ollie Pope stumped by Ollie Robinson as Surrey raised their 100 in the 15th over.

Qayyum finished his four overs with three for 22, after which Hardus Viljoen returned to pluck out middle stump via a bottom edge as Clark aimed to cut.    

Will Jacks clattered eight sixes late in the piece on his way to 63 off 27 balls before biffing Klaassen’s last ball of the innings into the hands of long off, even so, Surrey’s total appeared a little below par.

Kent batsman Zak Crawley, who scored his maiden T20 50, said: “At the end of our bowling you had a very good young player like Will Jacks, allowed to go out there and hit it, and we’ve conceded 50 off three overs, which obviously wasn’t ideal. 

“Then, at the end of our reply, they’ve got bowlers like Dernbach and Curran, both international cricketers, so it’s not easy chasing against guys like that. It’s quite rare for us to lose from the position we were in, but Surrey have some proper players and it’s never easy getting over the win line. 

“Myself and Dan batting at the top set it up quite well I thought, and if I could have gone on it would have made life easier for the guys coming in, so losing it by one run hurts, it’s just one of those things when you try and take it deep, but tonight, maybe, we took it to deep.”

Surrey top-scorer Will Jacks said: “After we’d batted 14 overs we’d got about a hundred on the board, we were nowhere, then 10 overs into their reply they were 100 for none, so to come out of here with a victory is great. It’s hard to believe.

“It’s been a bit of a tough tournament for me personally, I’ve been opening the batting but tonight, down at No6, I felt good and was delighted to get the runs that contributed to the win.

“We fielded brillantly and to defend 40 in the last 5 overs on a pretty small ground with a fast outfield was one hell of an effort. The bolwers, Sam and Jade in particular, deserve all credit.

“We’re not really thinking about getting to the quarter finals, we’re just trying to play good cricket and see where that takes us.”

THE TURNING POINT: Dernbach showed all his experience when sending down the 17th and 19th overs of a tense game. The Surrey skipper had the well-set Bell-Drummond caught on the drive, then dangerman Blake clipped one to point leaving Kent with too much to do.    

DELIVERY OF THE MATCH: With his ninth ball of the night Klaassen, the Dutch left-armer, rolled his fingers across the seam to deceive Finch with a slow off-cutter that the bamboozled Aussie chipped back off a leading edge.  

THE UNSUNG HERO: Qayyum barely gets a look in when it comes to red-ball cricket – he has played only 6 first-class games for Kent – but the 26-year-old from Ealing shows great composure in the short-form and thoroughly deserved three wickets on his 30th T20 appearance.

WHAT’S NEXT: On Thursday Kent welcome their short-form bogey side Gloucestershire to Canterbury for their final home qualifier of the campaign, while Surrey welcome Somerset to The Kia Oval on Tuesday, August 27.