Spitfires shot down by Hampshire
Kent’s seven-game winning run in the Twenty20 Cup came to a surprise end at a sunny Rose Bowl where a hugely weakened Hampshire secured a 44-run in front of a near 8,000 crowd at the Rose Bowl.
Despite the loss of Chris Tremlett, Dimitri Mascarenhas and Kevin Pietersen to England one-day international duty and the retirement of Shane Warne, Hawks were still strong enough to inflict defeat on the reigning champions – yet it was no more than the hosts deserved as Kent fell well short of their 198-run target.
On a dry pitch, Hampshire’s three spinners proved hard to get away, while having two left-handers in the top three of their batting order also proved beneficial when aiming for the short boundaries on the Nursery Ground side.
Though Kent skipper Rob Key hit his side’s first six of the reply off the bowling of Nantie Hayward, he perished in trying to repeat the shot in Billy Taylor’s first over after picking out the safe hands of Michael Carberry at deep square-leg.
Though Kent were already 21 behind the Hawks rate after five over, in-form Joe Denly kept his cool to keep picking out the gaps and, after six overs, the visitors had 50 on the board.
After reaching 14, his best in the competition this season, Martin van Jaarsveld mistimed an attempted leg-side flick off an Ian Harvey slower ball and ballooned a catch to mid-wicket to bring in Justin Kemp.
Hampshire then turned to spin at both ends, with Greg Lamb at the North End and Academy left-armer Liam Dawson at the Pavilion End, and the ploy worked well.
Dawson conceded a first ball six to Denly, but tightened up thereafter, while off-spinner Lamb had Kemp (2) superbly caught by Hamza Riazuddin then, two balls later, Darren Stevens (0) wandered out of his ground to be stumped leg side by Nic Pothas.
At the half-way point Kent were 29 behind the Hawks’ rate, but Denly upped the tempo with a six off Lamb that posted his third successive cup half-century from 39 balls and with three sixes.
With seven overs remaining Kent needed exactly 100 to extend their triumphant run in this competition, but their task became tougher when Denly, on 63, holed out to long-on off teenager Riazuddin.
Geraint Jones (28) cracked on with a six and four off Dawson but, in aiming an inside-out drive over cover, only picked out the fielder at long-off and with 24 balls remaining Kent still needed 74.
With the task already beyond him Azhar Mahmood (10) drove into the hands of extra cover and, in the end, Spitfires were shot down meekly.
Batting first after winning the toss, it was Hawks’ former Gloucestershire all-rounder and Twenty20 specialist Harvey who clattered the first six of the match off Azhar Mahmood to race to 22 but, with the score on 38 he became his side’s first casualty.
Attempting to open the face against Yasir Arafat and run the ball down to third man, Harvey found a thick outside edge through to Geraint Jones who took the ball comfortably away to his right.
At the other end left-handed Michael Lumb was taking an early liking to a flat wicket and short boundaries by clubbing three sixes as Hampshire took full advantage of the six-over fielding restrictions to sprint to 71-1.
With the field eventually out, off-spinner James Tredwell restricted the hosts to six runs from his opening over, but there was nothing he could do to prevent Lumb from reaching his first T20 50 from 29 balls with four fours and three sixes.
Tredwell struck back in his second over, however, having Lumb caught at long off by Justin Kemp after an attempted lofted back-foot force for six to make it 89-2.
At half-way Hawks had reached 98-2 but then Chris Benham (2) aimed to drive at the fifth ball of the game from Darren Stevens and only succeeded in miscuing a catch back to the bowler.
On a sunny afternoon when left-handers seem to revel, ex-Kent and Surrey batter Carberry clipped a leg-side six off Ryan McLaren as Hawks went past 150 in the 17th over and Carberry to a 50 in 39 balls.
But after helping add 56 in six over with Michael Brown, Carberry heaved across the line at an Arafat slower ball and lost his off bail with the score at 167-4.
There was still time for Brown to deposit a six onto the nursery ground then another into the bucket seats off Mahmood who conceded 21 off his last over from the Pavilion End.
It was left to Arafat to bowl the last over, but he reveled in the pressure by bowling Pothas (8) and Lamb (0) with successive deliveries to keep Hampshire below the psychological barrier of reaching 200.
Brown, kept off strike for the final over, finished unbeaten on 40.
The two teams meet again at St Lawrence on Monday evening from 5.30pm.