Sam Northeast’s 96 from just 47 balls led Kent to a superb 193-8 at Beckenham, a score 23 runs too good for Surrey in the South Group clash.
Outgrounds are infamous for being run-fests for batsman, but Northeast took this theory to a whole new level in an innings that included five fours and seven huge sixes to the delight of the Beckenham crowd.
Electing to bat first, the Kent Spitfires got off to a strong start with openers Daniel Bell-Drummond and Joe Denly each taking a boundary from the first over. That was as good as it got for the former, however, caught behind by Gary Wilson off Matt Dunn for just five, with the bowler impressing through the evening with figures of 2/20 from three overs.
In fact, it was surprising Dunn wasn’t allowed his full allocation given some of the punishment his colleagues took, with Azhar Mahmood in particular proving expensive with 24 coming from the third over, his second, with Northeast taking a shine to the veteran.
As is often the way in T20 cricket, wickets stemmed the flow of runs, as Tom Curran had Joe Denly bamboozled by an over with more variety than Heinz, while Surrey’s overseas stars combined, with Moises Henriques having the explosive Sam Billings caught by Kumar Sangakkara just seven balls later.
At 60/3, the hosts will have been happy with their powerplay, but the two quick wickets forced Northeast and Fabian Cowdrey into a more conservative approach- for a couple of overs at least- until Gareth Batty was punished by some marvellous strokeplay from Northeast who reached his 50 from just 22 balls at the end of the eighth over.
The 25-year-old was merely getting started, with Zafar Ansari, impressive with the ball for Surrey this year, given short shrift from Northeast with 20 coming from the over, including two big sixes into the Beckenham crowd. That was, unsurprisingly, to be Ansari’s only over.
With Ansari, Batty and James Burke going for 68 runs from their combined five overs, it was down to Henriques to save some Surrey face. It was a feat he managed with aplomb, dismissing Cowdrey for 42 from 32 balls – ending his 98-run partnership with Northeast in the process – finishing with a highly respectable 2/24 from his full quota.
That proved to be the fightback point Surrey so badly needed, with the Spitfires losing their way in the middle-order, as Darren Stevens, Matt Coles and Alex Blake all departed for a combined three runs, with Northeast himself out from the final ball of the last over, holing out to Jason Roy.
The youngster ended four short of what would have been an excellent century, but the late innings work kept Kent from making what looked to be a certain 200+ score.
All of the visitors’ work was seemingly undone within six balls of their 194 chase, with Roy and Steven Davies both back in the pavilion by the time supporters had replenished their innings break beverages. Roy, who had looked to be in his usual attacking mode, struck two fours but was then trapped lbw by Coles, with his opening partner run out just two deliveries just two balls later without facing a ball. The apologetic look from Sangakkara told you all you needed to know about the dismissal.
The Sri Lankan began to make amends for his error in judgement, as he and Henriques put on 51 for the third wicket in under five overs, with Sangakkara in particular the aggressor with 34 runs in 19 balls with an elegance that has defined his illustrious playing career.
Sangakkara’s dimissal, caught on the rope by Calum Haggett, affected the visitors’ momentum somewhat, and while Henriques and wicketkeeper Gary Wilson (23 from 26 balls) batted together for a long period of time, the required run rate was an ever-increasing hindrance to their prospects of a second win of the season.
Henriques brought up his half-century from 37 balls, but it proved to be in vain as the Spitfires ran out winners by 23 runs, much to the delight of the Beckenham crowd.