Spitfires run chase comes up short
Essex Eagles pulled off a thrilling one-run victory over Kent Spitfires at Chelmsford in their Twenty20 Cup South Division clash.
The home side managed to defend their 147 for five total after Kent arrived at the final over, sent down by leg-spinner Danish Kaneria, requiring 14 to win.
It was a task that proved just beyond them, although Yasir Arafat defiantly struck the final delivery of the match for six as Kent ended on 146 for eight.
For quite some time Kent looked in control but the introduction of Kaneria was to haul Essex back into the game.
Coming on for the eighth over with the total on 57, the leg-spinner bowled Martin van Jaarsveld for 32 with his first delivery and conceded a mere five runs in his opening spell of two overs.
That opened the door for left-arm spinner Grant Flower to dismantle the middle order as he picked up three for 21, including the wicket of Azhar Mahmood who struck 20 from only 12 balls before he was caught at wide mid-on.
James Foster, again leading the side in the absence of the injured Mark Pettini, again played a significant role in his side's victory.
Fresh from his unbeaten 41 that saw Essex to victory against Sussex 24 hours earlier, he gave a repeat performance by scoring another 41 not out from 35 deliveries.
With James Middlebrook, who made 17, Foster shared in an unbroken stand of 56 in six overs for the sixth wicket.
Earlier Jason Gallian helped himself to half a dozen fours and a six while compiling 44 from 30 balls before his defences were breached by spinner James Tredwell.
During the course of Arafat's final over, the 19th of the Essex innings, the Pakistan fast-bowler had to be withdrawn from the attack after sending down two beamers in the space of three deliveries at Foster, leaving Ryan McLaren to complete the over.
Just how significant were the "no balls" became apparent later on as Essex secured a victory which now leaves them sharing second place in the table with Kent and Hampshire. All three have six points, just two behind leaders Middlesex.