Arafat guides Kent into last eight

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Yasir Arafat took three for 12 as holders Kent Spitfires cruised into the quarter-finals of the Twenty20 Cup with a comfortable 50-run win over south group whipping boys Sussex Sharks at Hove.

Kent's total of 162 for nine did not look enough on a good batting track but Sussex's chase was fatally undermined after they lost key men Murray Goodwin, acting captain Matt Prior and Dwayne Smith in the first four overs - all to former Sussex fast bowler Arafat.

In his first over Arafat uprooted Goodwin's leg stump and in his second he had Prior caught at mid-off off a mis-timed drive before winning a contentious leg-before decision against Smith, who had taken three or four paces down the track trying to work the ball through the leg side.

Opener Mike Yardy held things together with 26 off 17 balls including four boundaries, but when he pulled Robbie Joseph's first ball in Twenty20 cricket straight to deep square-leg Sussex were never in contention.

They did not score a boundary for six overs between the fifth and 11th overs and large sections of the 6,200 crowd had already left when Sussex were dismissed for 112 with three overs unused.

The impressive Joseph finished with two for 24 and also ran out Andrew Hodd while Rory Hamilton-Brown's 36 was a lone act of lower-order defiance for the hapless hosts.

Kent had built the platform for a total in excess of 200 when they reached 86 for two after 10 overs with skipper Rob Key starting to find his range.

But the Spitfires were never quite the same after Key holed out to deep mid-wicket in the 13th over for a run-a-ball 38 as Sussex's spinners applied a mid-innings squeeze.

Slow left-armer Yardy and leg-spinner Will Beer both took one for 27 from their four overs and when Kent tried to press the accelerator in the closing stages they tossed away their wickets, losing their last five for 15 runs.

Chief beneficiary was left-armer Chris Liddle who finished with four for 28, his second four-wicket performance in this season's competition.

Three of Liddle's victims were snared in the last over when Martin van Jaarsveld, Geraint Jones and James Tredwell fell in the space of four balls, leaving a frustrated Azhar Mahmood stuck at the non-striker's end unable to improve on his 34 off 21 balls which included two fours and two sixes.

Kent hit six sixes in their innings with Arafat, promoted to number three, striking three of them in the same over from Smith.

West Indies all-rounder Smith had earlier agreed to join Sussex on a Kolpak registration until the end of the 2010 season and celebrated with two wickets.

He had opener Joe Denly caught at backward point off the second ball of the innings before ending Arafat's fun after the Pakistan all-rounder had spoiled his figures by smashing 22 in his final over.
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