Bandara bewitches Gladiators
Kent Spitfires took an early lead in the battle to avoid the Friends Provident t20 wooden spoon by securing a 12-run win over fellow South Group strugglers Gloucestershire Gladiators at Canterbury.
In a re-run of the 2007 Twenty20 final, tGladiators soon lost their way when chasing Kent’s par-for-the-course total of 165 to suffer their eighth defeat of the campaign and allow Kent a fourth win of a modest campaign.
Gloucestershire began making a hash of their pursuit as early as the sixth delivery when Will Porterfield turned a leg-stump ball from Azhar Mahmood straight to Joe Denly at deep square-leg.
The visitors re-gained some composure in reaching 42 before Aaron Redmond drove the first ball of the afternoon from left-arm seamer Ashley Shaw, who was making his home debut, straight to mid-off.
Hamish Marshall, having been dropped on six, added only 11 more before heaving across a straight one from Simon Cook.
Leg-spinner Malinga Bandara then took two wickets in three balls to cut down the Gladiators in full stride.
Chris Taylor edged an attempted drive to the keeper before top-scorer James Franklin was deceived in the flight and to pick out James Hockley at long-on. He had made 40 from 33 balls.
Chris Dent chanced his arm against that of Denly to be run out for six then Richard Dawson miscued a sweep to deep-square to give Bandara final figures of 3-27.
Steve Snell had two stumps plucked out after missing with a leg-side smear against Amjad Khan then, in the penultimate over Jon Lewis holed out to long-off and, with 14 needed off the last over, Khan cleaned up Kirby to secure the win with four balls to spare.
Batting first having won the toss, Kent initially made good use of the same firm pitch that they had used for Friday’s clash with Hampshire Royals.
The Spitfires had 32 on the board within five overs before captain Rob Key edged an attempted clip over midwicket to be caught at short fine-leg.
Denly survived a chance at mid-on when on 10 and raced to 44 from 31 balls with four fours and a six before he drove firmly to long-on where has was superbly caught on the run by Marshall to make it 89 for two.
Number three Geraint Jones soon perished when he slog swept straight down the throat of the man at deep square-leg, then Alex Blake naively skied a cover drive straight into the hands of Porterfield at deep extra-cover.
After that, only Hockley with 13 at a run-a-ball and Martin van Jaarsveld, who top-scored with 59 from 40 balls reached double figures as Kent, from 105 for two, slid away to post 165 at an asking rate of 8.25 an over.
Van Jaarsveld timed the ball superbly to collect six fours and a six until he drove over a full-length ball from Franklin to lose his off stump.
In the Kent carnage that followed, left-arm seamer David Payne bagged 3-25 and Lewis 2-26 as Kent lost seven wickets for 60 runs in the pursuit of late runs.