Crusaders clinch Twenty20 title

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The Middlesex Crusaders held their nerve to win a thrilling Twenty20 Cup Final by beating the Kent Spitfires by 3 runs at a packed Rose Bowl to be crowned Champions.

Middlesex booked their place in the Stanford Super Series and possibly the cash-laden Champions League after winning a tense Twenty20 Cup final at the Rose Bowl.

England one-day international regular Owais Shah was the hero, cracking a best-of-the-day 75 from just 35 balls as Middlesex set Kent a target of 188 under the lights.

But, despite a fine start from Rob Key and Joe Denly, the bowling side restricted the chase to 184-5 with spinners Shaun Udal and Murali Karthik ultimately putting the skids under their home counties rivals.

South African Justin Kemp (49) gave Kent a chance to win off the last over bowled by Tyron Henderson, hitting two fours including one with two overthrows following an outrageous throw from long-on from Dawid Malan.

That left six required off the last three balls but Henderson, whose bowling has been a hallmark of the Middlesex success story, held his nerve to deny his countryman a famous win.

The Crusaders' total of 187-6 was the highest score in a Twenty20 final and proved Ed Joyce's decision to bat first to be a correct one.

They lost Billy Godleman for a single but the dangerous Henderson capitalised on being dropped on nine by Azhar Mahmood to make 43 off 33 balls, adding 28 with Joyce and 36 with Shah to set a solid foundation.

Joyce took 23 off just 12 balls before edging Simon Cook to Geraint Jones before Henderson cracked a Yasir Arafat yorker to Key at extra cover, who took a diving catch.

But Shah assumed the mantle, taking a particular liking to spinner James Tredwell as he lofted him over the mid-wicket boundary three times in succession, passing fifty in 25 balls.

His sparkling knock finally came to an end after six fours and five sixes when he was bowled by Ryan McLaren for 75, and Kent managed to put the brakes on to some extent, with 18 runs coming off the last three overs despite a 23-run cameo from Eoin Morgan.

Kent's reply began confidently headed by Key, who looked in great touch as he soon reached 52 from 30 balls courtesy of nine sweetly struck fours and a six.

But when Karthik had him caught behind the reply stuttered, with Denly (31) swiftly following him back when lofting Udal to Godleman on the boundary and Arafat running himself out off a no-ball.

But Kemp - who was dropped in the deep by Joyce on 24 - and Darren Stevens (33) got the chase back on track, adding 70 for the fourth wicket as Kent homed in on their victory target.

But Henderson, who had taken plenty of stick in his three earlier overs, was tossed the ball by Joyce and once again he pulled his side through.
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