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Eagles soar into last eight

Tom Westley destroyed the Kent attack with a magnificent century and then Jesse Ryder shone with the ball to help table-topping Essex claim a 63-run NatWest T20 Blast victory and a spot in the quarter-finals.

Ryder returned figures of 5-27 while Tim Phillips and Matt Salisbury weighed in with a couple of wickets each as Kent were bowled out for 146 in reply to Essex's imposing 209 for five at Colchester.

That total was largely down to Westley's stunning hundred, his first in the competition.

Arriving after Mark Pettini was caught at slip off Darren Stevens' second ball of the innings, the 25-year-old scored 105 from only 58 balls before he was caught behind by Sam Billings facing Mitchell Claydon.

In between, he smashed six sixes and 10 fours, four of them consecutively when Fabian Cowdrey was introduced into the attack, and he was so dominant that he had scored 43 when the team fifty was raised in the seventh over.

He reached his century out of a total of 146 with a drive for six off Ben Harmison and shared in a third-wicket stand of 92 in 10 overs with Ravi Bopara, the pair coming together after the Billings and Claydon combination had accounted for Ryder to leave Essex in some trouble on two for two.

Bopara was content to play the supporting role before he was caught at long-on for 23 attacking spinner Adam Riley.

Westley's dismissal with the score on 166 ended a partnership of 72 in five overs with James Foster but his departure brought no relief to Kent.

Skipper Ryan ten Doeschate saw to that as he launched a brutal assault with 37 from 15 deliveries which included four sixes in the final over of the innings sent down by Harmison.

It was to cost 32 runs, one of Ten Doeschate's sixes coming from a no-ball, and he also struck a four and a two before he was caught on the boundary edge from the final delivery.

Tom Westley smashes his way to a century as Essex Eagles posted 209 for five, which proved too much for Kent at ColchesterHis stand with Foster, who finished with an unbeaten 36 from 21 balls, saw 43 added from just three overs.

Faced with a huge target after putting their opponents into bat, Kent were soon in trouble.

Daniel Bell-Drummond was caught from the second ball of the innings to provide Graham Napier with a success and then Salisbury claimed two wickets in his opening over.

With his first ball, he knocked out the off stump of Rob Key before following-up by having Cowdrey caught at short fine-leg by Napier for a single. That left the visitors in disarray at 17 for three.

Unlike Essex, Kent simply did not have the armoury to fight their way back into contention.

Sam Northeast scored 41 from 32 balls with five fours before he was caught behind off left-arm spinner Phillips. Alex Blake and Billings struck a few belligerent blows before Ryder picked up three scalps in an over on his way to a five-wicket haul that completed Kent's demise.

Essex were able coast to their ninth triumph in 10 matches in the competition this season. This was the first time that Essex had staged a Twenty20 match away from the Essex County Ground and it was to prove a successful initiative with a capacity crowd of 4,500 watching the action at Colchester.

Westley was quick to extend praise to another member of the successful Essex side, saying: "It wasn't all down to me. The way that Jesse Ryder bowled was excellent.

"We lost a couple of early wickets but we have so much batting in this side that we are always confident we will post a decent total. I felt in good nick and have been striking the ball cleanly in all formats but it was very satisfying to get a T20 century in front of our own fans."

Kent all-rounder Stevens said: "We got off to a good start getting both openers out cheaply but Tom Westley played beautifully, fair play to him. We know outstanding innings in T20 is always going to make things difficult for the opposition and so it proved."

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