Azhar sees Kent home
Kent Spitfires wrapped up their Friends Provident t20 home fixtures and moved off the foot of the South Group table with a comfortable six-wicket win over Glamorgan Dragons at Canterbury.
The Spitfires posted a fifth win of the campaign courtesy of an unbeaten stand of 43 between Geraint Jones and Azhar Mahmood, who hit 30 from 29 balls to take the man-of-the-match honours.
Pursuing the Dragons’ modest total of 126, Kent made a poor start when James Hockley dabbed at a Robert Croft arm-ball to edge to the keeper.
Joe Denly and Martin van Jaarsveld put on 43 for the second wicket before the latter top-edged a sweep off Croft to Jim Allenby short fine-leg.
Denly, who was dropped on 18, went on to reach 36 from 38 balls with four boundaries, before he too fell to Croft.
Beaten in the flight as he advanced to drive, Croft turned one through the gate to peg back off-stump and finish with 3-19.
Left-arm spinner Dean Cosker, having seen two catches go down, deservedly picked up the scalp of in-form Darren Stevens, who missed an attempted lofted drive to be stumped by Mark Wallace.
Kent promoted Azahr to number four and, though he might have gone for two when James Harris downed a difficult diving chance at deep cover, the ploy ultimately worked as the former Pakistan Test all-rounder teamed up with Jones to see Kent home.
With 20 needed off 18 balls, the duo took 12 off Jamie Dalrymple’s third over, the 18th of the innings and seven off the next from Shaun Tait, leaving Jones to win it with a crisp off-driven boundary in the final over from Allenby.
Glamorgan’s total of 126 for six contained only 10 fours and one six as their top order struggled for timing on a dry pitch which helped Kent spinners Malinga Bandara and van Jaarsveld.
The Dragons posted 48 for the first wicket through Mark Cosgrove, their top-scorer with 36 from 33 balls, and Allenby, who went for 17 in the eighth over after clipping a full toss from Ashley Shaw straight to deep midwicket.
Bandara’s introduction at the Pavilion End swung the balance Kent’s way with an excellent four-over stint of 3-15.
The Sri Lankan had Wallace caught off a top-edged reverse-sweep then Tom Maynard off a miscued slog sweep at long-on.
In his next over Cosgrove, who got under way with two edged boundaries to third man, eventually ran out of luck when his lofted off-drive was superbly held on the run by a diving Denly.
Kent’s sharp fielding also led to a couple of run outs in the final two overs as Ben Wright and Gareth Rees were undone by direct hits from Azhar and Alex Blake from long-off.