Kent prevail in big-hitting battle
Kent Spitfires secured in in an entertaining Friends Life t20 encounter with Sussex Sharks at Canterbury.
The visitors' challenge faded when Scott Styris was caught on the deep midwicket boundary from the fourth ball of the final over, having hit the previous two deliveries for four and six.
New Zealand international Styris had the home fans on edge as Mitchell Claydon made a wobbly start to the task of preventing Sussex from scoring 23 from the final over in reply to Kent's 173 for three.
But Styris, attempting another clubbing leg-side blow, then holed out to Brendan Nash at deep midwicket and, despite bowling a wide to new batsman Will Beer from his next ball, Claydon held his nerve to allow just a single and a leg-bye from the last two balls of the contest, leaving Sussex on 164 for six.
It is only Kent's second win of the group stage, but at least they now go above Sussex - who are anchored at the bottom of the South Group table with just one win from nine games. Kent still have three matches left.
In the end, Kent were indebted to a late assault by Darren Stevens - who finished on 67 not out - and a far faster start to their innings than Sussex.
Stevens faced 44 balls, striking four sixes and three fours, and took 18 runs from the last six balls of the innings from Lewis Hatchett, who began a damaging set of six with a no-ball.
Kent scored 70 for two from the powerplay overs in contrast to 39 for one by Sussex.
Although Matt Machan hit 66 from 48 balls, with two sixes and six fours, and added 68 for the third wicket with Chris Nash, who made 31 from 24, the visitors were always struggling to keep up with the required rate of 108 from the second 10 overs.
The Kent innings was given a flying start by the youthful opening pair of Fabian Cowdrey and Sam Billings, who put on 60 in 5.2 overs before the latter was bowled for a 14-ball 24, swinging at Chris Liddle.
Cowdrey drove his second six of the innings off Liddle before he fell for a brilliant 41 off 21 deliveries, hitting the left-arm paceman’s slower ball to cover.
Brendan Nash, in at number three, could not get going and made only 15 from a third-wicket stand of 53 in 10 overs with Stevens before the returning Liddle bowled him.
But Stevens, who had already hit Yardy over the midwicket boundary and driven leg-spinner Beer straight and to wide long-on for successive sixes, provided the explosive and ultimately decisive finish.