Blake spearheads Kent win
A career-best unbeaten 81 by rookie all-rounder Alex Blake helped Kent secure their first home win of the season with a comfortable 58-run Clydesdale Bank 40 success over Scotland at Canterbury.
The 21-year-old went to the wicket with his side in a spot of bother on 108 for four, a situation that quickly worsened when the in-form Darren Stevens drove on the up against Ross Lyons to make it 113 for five.
That brought together Blake, playing only his 13th List A game, and the experienced Azhar Mahmood for a sixth-wicket stand worth 102 in 24 overs that turned the course of the game.
Having won the toss and elected to field in cool, overcast conditions, Scotland’s attack nipped the ball around and performed well to winkle out Kent’s top five inside the opening 24 overs.
After an opening stand of 45 between Joe Denly and Rob Key, Denly blotted his copybook by missing an attempted slashing drive against Gordon Drummond to be bowled for 24.
Martin van Jaarsveld had his off stump plucked out by an off-cutter from Richie Berrington and, in the following over, Key, on 24, worked across a straight one from Majid Haq to have his stumps rearranged.
Stevens and Geraint Jones added 47 for the fourth wicket but when both fell in the space of two overs Kent were in danger of becoming the Saltires’ second county scalp of the campaign following their shock away win over Leicestershire a fortnight ago.
But Blake, with eight fours and a cover-driven six in his 56-ball innings, joined forces with Azhar, who clattered 44 from 41 balls, to bat the visitors out of the game and take Kent to a respectable 249.
Scotland’s reply floundered from the off against the pace of Makhaya Ntini, on his last appearance for Kent, and the wiles of Azhar.
He knocked back Omer Hussain’s off stump in the second over and then Ntini bowled Gavin Hamilton to finish his eight-over stint with 1-28.
Simon Cook then took two wickets in as many overs on his way to figures of 2-50, he trapped Gregor Maiden leg before and had Berrington caught at slip off an edged drive.
The Scots regrouped through George Bailey, with a 57-ball fifty, and Neil McCallum, who added 93 for the fifth wicket, but much to the detriment of the required run-rate, which had escalated to 14.5 by the time Bailey went for 70, bowled around his legs by Khan when attempting a leg-side clip.
When McCallum, on 45, holed out in Khan’s next over Scotland’s outside hopes of causing an upset vanished.