Adam Rossington crashed an unbeaten 41 from 20 balls to see Middlesex Panthers to a spectacular four-wicket win in a rain-ruined Friends Life t20 South Group clash in Canterbury and put a dampener on Vernon Philander’s Kent Spitfires debut.
Philander bagged 4-8 in a devastating three-over burst only to finish on the losing side as Middlesex successfully chased down a twice-adjusted target to win with two balls to spare under the Duckworth/Lewis method.
Rated the number-two bowler in Test cricket, Philander claimed the first four-wicket haul of his Twenty20 career as the Panthers made a poor start to their initial chase of 132 from 15 overs.
Bowling from the Pavilion End, the Proteas seamer who previously starred for Middlesex and Somerset, plucked out Paul Sterling’s off stump to open with a wicket-maiden.
A partial floodlight failure caused further consternation in the second over, but Philander showed his class by running one away from Joe Denly to be caught by Sam Billings and leave Middlesex on eight for two after only 16 balls.
A five-minute shower led to the loss of three more overs and a re-adjusted target of 111 to win from 12 overs, yet Panthers still had no answer to Philander.
The bustling right-armer returned to have Dawid Malan well held by Mitchell Claydon off a top edge at third man then Adam Voges caught at mid-off when attempting to drive a length ball.
Neil Dexter was well held off a skier by the keeper then Ben Harmison pouched an even better catch at long-on to account for Gareth Berg.
Yet Middlesex cashed in by taking 16 off James Tredwell’s opening over then, with 36 required off the last three overs, Matt Coles leaked 28 off only 10 deliveries - Rossington hoisting the last of those over long-leg for a match-winning six.
Middlesex, having won the toss and elected to bowl first in steady drizzle and with the floodlights blazing, made a nervy start as off-spinner Ollie Rayner conceded two leg-side wides in the game’s opening over.
Kiwi seamer Kyle Mills then overstepped to gift a free-hit that Sam Northeast dispatched to the cover-point ropes as Kent cruised to 29 before their first casualty.
Rob Key charged down the pitch looking to drive Mills only to toe-end a catch through to keeper Rossington and, when rain arrived at the end of the fifth over, Kent had reached 36 for one.
The game re-started at 8:40pm with the loss of five overs per side, but the 70-minute delay caused Kent’s batsmen to lose their rhythm.
Billings was fortunate to be dropped as veteran seamer Tim Murtagh spilt a skier at long-off against the bowling of Rayner, who moved his field to have Billings held by Josh Davey in the same position in his next over.
Northeast edged to the keeper when attempting to cut then, four balls later, Alex Blake meandered down the pitch against the bowling of Davey to be stumped by Rossington’s under-arm shy at the stumps.
Stevens upped the tempo with 26 off 10 deliveries before holing out to long-leg to make it 103 for five, but sixth-wicket partners Harmison and Philander plundered 13 off the final over of the innings, to complete a miserable evening for Murtagh whose three overs cost 30 runs.
Middlesex made their chase all the harder by contributing 13 extras, nine wides and four no balls, to the Kent total of 129 for five.