Essex suffer another T20 defeat at hands of Kent
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Daniel Bell-Drummond hammered his this third Vitality Blast half-century of the season to help Kent finish second in the southern group and set up a home tie in the last four.
Bell-Drummond was out at the start of the final over for 80 from 51 balls as Kent crossed the line with one ball to spare to record their eighth T20 win of the campaign, by a five-wicket margin last night.
With Joe Denly, Bell-Drummond set the ball rolling in pursuit of 202 to win with a 98-run opening stand. When he departed he had hit eight fours and three sixes.
The Spitfires had qualified for the knockout stages the night before when they beat Somerset by five runs. Their visit to The County Ground was, therefore, to decide venue and opponents for next week’s quarter-final.
Despite the defeat, it was a memorable evening for Essex’s veteran all-rounder Ravi Bopara. He marked his 300th career T20 appearance by taking his 200th wicket, returning four-over figures of one for 22. He also claimed 25 off 10 balls, including two sixes, to move within seven runs of 6,000 in the 16 years of the shortest form of the game.
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Essex passed 200 for the second time in 24 hours, but only the second time this season after claiming only their second win of a dismal season against Middlesex on Thursday night. It was an Essex team chosen with an eye on the resumption of the Specsavers County Championship on Sunday against Somerset at Taunton. Captain Ryan ten Doeschate plus pacemen Peter Siddle and Sam Cook were rested, while spinner Aron Nijjar and Dutch international Shane Snater made their T20 debuts for the Eagles.
Denly and Bell-Drummond made a storming start on the ground where they compiled a then world-record opening stand of 207 a year ago. They had 50 on the board inside five overs.
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Bell-Drummond’s fifty took 27 balls, and included two sixes and six fours. But with the stand approaching three-figures in nine overs he lost Denly. The all-rounder came down the wicket to Nijjar and found Michael Pepper on the long-off boundary. He had contributed 45 from 23 balls, with seven fours and a six.
Bell-Drummond exited with four balls left when held by Snater at deep midwicket to give Coles the wicket. But Grant Stewart made up for some indifferent bowling by striking the winning four from the penultimate ball.