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Teamwork seals semi final win for Kent

Kent Spitfires remain on course to retain the Twenty20 Cup after a 14-run victory over Essex Eagles in the first semi-final at the Rose Bowl.

After opting to bat first, Kent posted a total of 173-7 with opener Joe Denly's 36 from 27 balls the top score, in the process overtaking Yorkshire's Anthony McGrath as the leading run-scorer in this year's competition.

Denly and captain Robert Key (20) got the innings off to a flying start with a stand of 58 before introduction of leg-spinner Danish Kaneria (2-28) stalled the momentum of the innings on a slow wicket.

Solid middle-order contributions from Darren Stevens (29) and Azhar Mahmood (27) ensured a competitive total despite medium pacer Ravi Bopara's (3-36) best efforts.

Essex looked in total control of the run chase during an opening partnership of 78 between Bopara and Mark Pettini.

But, as was the case in Kent's innings, once the pace was taken off the ball in the middle overs runs became harder to come by.

Graham Napier failed to replicate his big-hitting exploits of the group stage, managing just three off five balls at number three after off-spinner James Tredwell had Bopara caught-and-bowled.

The run outs of both Pettini and Grant Flower in quick succession reduced Essex to 117-4 and saw the required-rate start to spiral.

And the scoreboard pressure took its toll on the lower order, wickets falling regularly - including two for Yasir Arafat - as Essex finished short on 159-8.

The second semi-final between Durham or Middlesex starts at 3pm, followed by the final at 7.15pm.

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