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Kent stay in contention

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Kent kept their faint Friends Life t20 qualification hopes alive by securing a 48-run win over Surrey in a low-scoring South Group game on a turning pitch at the Kia Oval.

In front of a 13,500 crowd, the hosts fielded four spinners and restricted Kent to a seemingly modest 126 for eight.

Yet Kent’s patched-up attack performed wonders to skittle the bottom side for 88 - their lowest ‘all out’ t20 total - with 15 balls unused.

That inflicted a sixth straight defeat on Surrey and left the visitors, who had lost their previous three, seven points behind leaders Sussex, four behind Hampshire and one behind Essex with two matches to play.

The pursuit began to unravel as early as the sixth ball when Kevin Pietersen was lbw, working across the line to a Mark Davies off-cutter.

Jason Roy followed without scoring in the next over after shuffling across his wickets to leave his leg stump exposed to Azhar Mahmood, who took 3-12 from three overs.

Davies struck again to have Rory Burns snaffled at short midwicket and Mahmood bagged his second scalp by having Steven Davies caught behind, attempting a steer to third man.

Alex Blake

Kent's Alex Blake joint-top-scores with 35 of a seemingly modest 136 for eight that proved 48 too many for Surrey at the Kia Oval

Surrey chipped and chased their way to 51 for four at the mid-point of the reply but, with 86 needed off the last 60 balls, the pressure started to tell.

Zafar Ansari played across one to be bowled for 25 by Darren Stevens, who in the next over ran out Murali Kartik without having faced a ball.

Off-spinner Adam Riley, a late inclusion in place of James Tredwell who was today called up to England’s NatWest Series squad, then took two wickets in three balls to put the result beyond doubt.

The Kent Academy graduate drew Zander de Bruyn down the pitch and turned it to secure a leg-side stumping for 18. Then Matthew Spriegel played round an arm-ball to go leg before, leaving Adam Ball to finish the job off by having Gareth Batty stumped for 10.

Kent earlier made a sluggish start against spin at both ends and lost Sam Northeast for 12 when, working to leg, the right-hander toe-ended a catch to Pietersen running in from mid-on.

Fellow opener Sam Billings heaved horribly across a good-length ball from Chris Tremlett to be caught behind for the same score.

Stevens soon followed when an attempted slog-sweep against Kartik sailed high to Pietersen at backward point to make it 54 for three.

Azhar’s poor t20 trot continued against his former club when he was stumped after dragging his back foot, having missed an attempted straight drive against Ansari.

Visiting captain Rob Key gave Pietersen a third catch and Ansari his second scalp when, with 35 from 31 balls to his name, he ran down the pitch to drive into the hands of the man at extra-cover.

Alex Blake combined with Jones to add 40 in 4.5 overs before the latter missed an attempted scoop against Tremlett and lost his middle stump for 13.

Left-handed Blake joint top-scored with 35 before holing out to deep midwicket off Dirk Nannes and Ball followed suit in top-edging to long-leg, leaving Davies to survive the hat-trick ball.

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