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Stunning Stevens shoots down Sharks

Darren Stevens hit the fastest hundred of the county season from 44 balls under the lights at Canterbury to outshine Sussex Sharks counterpart Luke Wright and pilot Kent Spitfires to a remarkable three-wicket Yorkshire Bank 40 win.

Set a mammoth 337 for victory, Kent edged home in a tense finish just before 10:30pm to complete a sensational chase with 10 balls to spare.

Stevens plundered a blistering 53-ball 118, while Sam Northeast all but saw the hosts home with a maiden one-day century off 90 deliveries.

Wright had earlier contributed 115 to a sensational opening stand of 194 with Chris Nash that spanned less than 19 overs.

Making the most of a short boundary on the Old Dover Road side of the ground, Sussex went on to surpass their previous highest one-day total against Kent, a score of 314 for seven at Tunbridge Wells in a 65-overs-per-side Gillette Cup clash.

Yet remarkably, the Sharks’ 336 for five proved inadequate as Stevens took centre stage.

Facing an asking rate of 8.4 an over from the off, Kent made a brisk start as Northeast and Rob Key put on 109 inside 13 overs.

Key holed out to long-on off Chris Liddle soon after bringing up a 40-ball half-century that contained eight fours.

Liddle also had Alex Blake caught behind for 14, but that only brought in Stevens, who was soon dishing out severe punishment to leg-spinner Will Beer and his replacement Rory Hamilton-Brown.

In reaching three figures from just 44 balls with the aid of six sixes, Stevens equalled Mark Ealham’s record for the fastest Kent hundred, set in a 1995 Sunday League meeting with Derbyshire in Maidstone.

He also became the new frontrunner for the Walter Lawrence Trophy awarded to the player compiling the fastest hundred of the summer.

Although Stevens eventually holed out off James Anyon, Northeast ensured the all-rounder’s efforts did not go to waste.

His fine innings came to an end with 14 needed when he was stumped aiming a tired-looking drive at Beer.

Kent also lost Ben Harmison and Calum Haggett either side of Northeast’s exit, while Mitchell Claydon was run out with one required before a Wright wide brought the game to an end.

Wright would surely not have expected to finish on the losing side after cracking 13 fours and five sixes in a 54-ball hundred.

By the time he was caught at backward point via a deflection off Geraint Jones’ gloves, Sussex were on course for a mammoth total.

Nash made it to 83 before sweeping namesake Brendan to backward-square leg. His innings came off 58 balls with 11 fours and a six.

A brief lull followed as Brendan Nash, Stevens and Adam Riley did their best to peg back the scoring rate.

Their efforts would ultimately prove crucial, although runs flowed far more freely off Haggett, who finished with hugely expensive figures of 8-0-97-2.

Haggett’s second victim was Michael Yardy, who added a brisk 46 before Matt Machan finished unbeaten on 41.

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