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Shah makes maximum impact

Owais Shah clattered six sixes in a match-defining innings of 59 as Essex Eagles opened their Friends Life t20 win account with a 47-run triumph over Kent Spitfires at Canterbury.

Requiring 165 for victory at an asking rate of 8.25 an over, Kent crumbled to 117 all out with 15 balls unused and registered their third South Group defeat in as many starts in front of a season's-best crowd of 5,000.

Kent made the worst possible start when Sam Northeast was lbw to the first ball of the chase, having played across the line at Graham Napier.

With Shaun Tait and Napier bowling tightly and Kent's Rob Key and Sam Billings struggling for timing, the Spitfires could only muster 30 from their powerplay.

Kent then suffered another blow when Greg Smith took a good low catch on the run at deep midwicket to send Billings packing.

By the eighth over the St Lawrence Ground announcer was already playing the theme from Mission Impossible, which was the cue for Darren Stevens to take a six and two fours off an over from Ryan ten Doeschate.

However, it was not long before Stevens played on attempting to pull Ravi Bopara and Key soon followed, holing out to long-on to leave Kent 82 for four and in deep trouble.

As the asking rate approached 10 an over, Alex Blake perished to a catch at deep midwicket for 19, while Matt Coles was caught down the leg side off Bopara.

Reece Topley, who bagged 3-19, bowled Ben Harmison off a bottom edge and when Vernon Philander skied to long-off Kent's outside chances went with him as Napier polished off the innings with 3-12.

Having been asked to bat first, Essex had 34 on the board in four overs, but Kent broke through when Smith heaved across the line and lost his leg stump to Philander.

James Tredwell, who finished with 1-19 from a full allocation, had Napier caught at long-on, while Hamish Rutherford was lbw to Adam Riley for 29, although the New Zealander waved his hand at umpire Trevor Jesty as if to suggest the ball had brushed his glove.

Essex reached 72 for three at the mid-point of their innings, but Kent enjoyed further success when Stevens had Bopara caught behind.

That was the cue for Shah to take control, the former England batsman bringing up a classy 33-ball half-century to boost his side’s total.

His fifth-wicket stand with ten Doeschate was worth 74 by the time the latter was run out backing up.

Shah was yorked by Claydon for 59 in the final over, but Essex’s total proved well beyond their opponents’ reach.

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