Daniel Bell-Drummond scored 62, leading his Kent side to a five run victory over Hampshire to move them fifth in the South Group.
Bell-Drummond had largely anchored Kent’s innings, fellow opener Joe Denly the only other man to pass 30. The pair had got off to something of a slow start, after Kent chose to bat on a slightly sluggish pitch, taking just five boundaries from the powerplay.
Having surpassed Wayne Madsen as the leading run scorer in the competition, Denly went two overs after the powerplay for 31, bowled sweeping Mason Crane.
Bell-Drummond kept the scoreboard ticking over and struck some nice boundaries, cutting, sweeping and driving on his way to a third Blast half-century of the season, coming in 33 balls.
Kent were unable to push on as they might have liked, with Shahid Afridi’s killer spell seeing them lose four wickets for just 29. They went six overs without finding the rope. Alex Blake and Darren Stevens hit a trio of late fours, then Stevens slapping to mid-off last ball of the innings.
Afridi’s inspired spell of bowling saw him pick up 4-26 as Kent were restricted to 159, what looked like a slightly below par score. He began his dismantling in his second over, missing a sharp chance drilled back at him by Sam Northeast before bowling the Kent captain sweeping two balls later.
In the following over, Sam Billings advanced to Afridi and slapped the ball down to Mason Crane at long on.
A change of ends for his final over brought about greater success for Afridi. Jimmy Neesham edged to third man, while attempting to clear midwicket. Two balls later, Bell-Drummond went into-out over cover and Liam Dawson took an impressive diving catch running around from point.
George Bailey hit his highest score of the Natwest T20 Blast this season, while Tom Alsop hit 43* but it wasn’t enough to lead Hampshire to victory.
Bailey clipped a boundary off his first ball, and helped steady the innings after captain James Vince went for 39. He played a beauty of a reverse sweep to the boundary, fooling Imran Qayyum at short third man, and took back-to-back fours from James Tredwell to move his side past 100.
But, on 41, Bailey tried sweeping Tredwell and could only manage a top edge to fine leg, with Hampshire still needing 38 from 28.
Alsop, though, remained and scored; largely taking singles and twos – he hit just two boundaries. He was innocuous and easily unnoticeable in his craft, but ultimately it was a crucial knock.
Dawson came and went for four, with Lewis McManus unable to help Alsop get over the line as they left themselves too tough a task in scoring 16 from the final over.
Elsewhere in the chase, Rilee Rossouw’s opening cameo lasted just eight balls, hitting three boundaries before driving to mid off, but captain James Vince looked fluent at the other end. He found the ropes with ease, favouring the legside as he clipped and pulled through midwicket. Yet he enjoyed the offside, too – striking the first and only six of the match over cover.
An off drive saw Rossouw’s sixth four but two balls later he fell to Matt Coles, trying to work a slower ball into the legside but instead losing legstump.