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Blake blasts Spitfires to vital win

Watch highlights of the second innings

Kent Spitfires withstood a late burst of hitting from Chris Jordan, Ben Brown and Will Beer to pip Sussex Sharks by three runs in a NatWest T20 Blast South Group thriller at the County Ground.

Alex Blake's exhilarating 53 not out from 32 balls, including five sixes, lifted Kent to 149 for nine - far more than looked likely for most of their innings - and then the game looked up for Sussex as they collapsed to 43 for five after 10 overs.

But Brown, with 33 off 22 balls, Jordan, with a 26-ball 37, and Beer - whose 25 took just 12 deliveries - almost snatched it at the death.

Jordan, who drove Mitchell Claydon for six from the fourth ball of the 20th over, holed out to long-off when eight runs were required off the last two balls. The catch, by Ben Harmison, finally sealed a win for Kent that keeps up their hopes of quarter-final qualification from the South Group. Defeat for Sussex makes it almost impossible for them to qualify.

Harmison had earlier produced a double-wicket maiden with his opening over, the third of Sussex's reply, to shock the home side in front of a near-capacity 6,000 crowd.

Ben Harmison celebrates a wicket on a fine evening in the field for the all-rounder, as Kent kept their quarter-final hopes alive

Chris Nash swung Harmison to deep square-leg before Luke Wells skied to mid-on. When James Tredwell bowled Luke Wright for 17 through an attempted cut, it left Sussex 32 for three.

Worse was to follow as Fabian Cowdrey turned one through debutant Craig Cachopa's defences and had Matt Machan pouched by Blake at long-on.

Two sixes by Brown off Cowdrey began Sussex's desperate counter-attack but the excellent Tredwell, who conceded just 12 runs from his four overs, returned to have Yasir Arafat caught and bowled in the 17th over, soon after Brown pulled Adam Ball to Cowdrey on the short midwicket boundary.

At 103 for seven, after 17 overs, it looked all over for Sussex but Jordan and Beer had other ideas.

Kent's innings started well, with Daniel Bell-Drummond taking a leg-side four and a pulled six off Lewis Hatchett's opening over.

But captain Rob Key's dismissal, caught at point for 11 in Hatchett's next set of six, seemed to take the wind from Kent's sails.

Sam Northeast feathered Arafat down the leg side to be caught behind and the visitors were 51 for three when Cowdrey was leg-before to Beer’s googly.

The slump continued when Steffan Piolet nipped one back to remove dangerman Darren Stevens in similar fashion and Bell-Drummond skied Beer to cover to end a previously watchful 34.

Blake hit his first six in the 13th over, a massive blow over extra cover off Beer, but lost Sam Billings as his partner tried to launch the same bowler over midwicket.

From 77 for six the Kent innings was boosted by Blake's big hitting, following the left-hander's brilliant ramp shot for four against Arafat.

Jordan was plundered for 24 in the 17th over, a bouncer flying for five wides before Blake pulled and slashed him for two sixes, the second a free-hit after a no-ball had further extended the over.

Some wonderfully crisp and clean hitting gave Alex Blake a half-century and dragged Kent up to a match-winning total

Two more pulled sixes by Blake off Arafat brought up a superb and decisive fifty.

"It was hard work out there as captain,"said Key. "Injuries mean we had a few inexperienced bowlers out there and I knew we had to take early wickets if we were to have a chance of defending a score I thought was 20 runs short of par with such short boundaries. But without Alex Blake's fantastic innings we wouldn't have had any prayer."

Sussex captain Nash said: "All credit to our guys down the order for getting us so close. Blake played brilliantly but we thought 150 was chaseable. In the end the last four overs of their innings cost us.”

Watch highlights of the first innings

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