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Christian aid cannot save Middlesex

Dan Christian's incredible knock of 129 off 57 balls proved in vain as Middlesex Panthers fell just short of clinching an improbable NatWest T20 Blast victory at Kent Spitfires.

The Panthers needed a miracle to catch Kent at the Spitfire Ground after the hosts posted a daunting 208 for four thanks chiefly to half-centuries from Sam Northeast and Alex Blake.

But Christian's knack for finding the boundary - he did so 22 times - dragged Middlesex screaming into three figures, and he could not be stopped until David Griffiths made him his first of three victims in the final over to secure a nervous 16-run win.

Kent opted to bat and Daniel Bell-Drummond soon departed to Christian for 10, but steady batting from captain Rob Key helping the hosts reach 57 for one after six overs.

He would walk before the halfway point, though, John Simpson stumping him off Ravi Patel for 36.

Northeast was on 28 when new partner Darren Stevens was run out, but he powered past the 50-mark with a four-six-four in the 15th over.

He fell to Christian three balls later for 54 with Kent going well on 137 for four.

As Sam Billings came in, Blake picked up where Northeast had left off and reached his half-century with his third of three fours in the 18th over.

The pair survived to the break - Billings making an unbeaten 31 and Blake 58 - as Kent set Middlesex a target of 209 to win.

The chase started poorly with Paul Stirling departing cheaply off Doug Bollinger in the first over.

Griffiths took Dawid Malan's wicket for 12 before Stevens removed Eoin Morgan for 10.

Christian did what he could to propel the Panthers towards three figures by scoring 20 off Stevens in the seventh over, yet he would soon lose partner Joe Denly thanks to Bollinger.

After 10 overs Middlesex needed 126 more runs to win and Christian kept the flame of hope flickering as he brought up his fifty with a six off only the 25th ball he had faced. Neil Dexter did not fare as well, soon departing to Adam Riley.

Christian hit his fifth maximum shortly before Simpson became Riley's second victim - Middlesex at that point needed 99 runs from the final 38 balls.

The 15th over saw the relentless Christian wallop four fours and two sixes to close in on his century, which arrived two overs later as the Australian helped himself to another pair of sixes.

Suddenly, with two overs remaining, Middlesex were well within sight of the victory.

When Toby Roland-Jones fell to Bollinger in the penultimate over the Panthers needed 20 runs off the final seven balls, yet it was not to be.

Griffiths called time on Christian's incredible stand with the first ball of the last six and quickly tidied up Rayner and Patel, both for ducks, to restrict Middlesex to a battling total of 192 all out.

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