Stevens and Azhar shine amid gloom
Eye-catching all-round performances from Darren Stevens and Azhar Mahmood eased Kent to a 42-run victory over Nottinghamshire in a Clydesdale Bank 40 game reduced to 16 overs a side.
Heavy rain delayed the start for three and a half hours, but it was Kent who appeared sharper with bat and ball when play finally got under way in front of a small Canterbury crowd at 5.15pm.
Batting first having lost the toss, Kent reached 45 without loss before openers Rob Key and Joe Denly, who each scored 22, ran themselves out.
At the start of the 10th over Martin van Jaarsveld missed an attempted sweep against Samit Patel to have his leg stump pegged back and, at 63 for three, Kent appeared unlikely to post a competitive score.
The fourth-wicket pair of Azhar and Stevens had other ideas, however, as they tucked into the Nottinghamshire attack to add 72 in 5.5 overs and set the Outlaws a testing asking rate of 8.5 an over for victory.
They took 22 from one over from Paul Franks as Stevens dashed to 49 not out off 35 balls, including three fours and as many sixes, one of which landed in the new St Lawrence lime tree.
Azhar chipped in with an unbeaten 29 off 15 deliveries and cleared the ropes twice as Franks conceded 33 in three wicketless overs.
Seemingly shell-shocked at the punishment their bowlers had received, Nottinghamshire got off to a poor start to their run-chase and, once behind the asking rate, never recovered their composure.
They lost Ali Brown in the second over – he missed an expansive drive to have his off stump plucked out by former Surrey team-mate Azhar – and Matthew Wood sliced the next ball to Matt Coles at point.
Although Samit Patel survived the hat-trick ball, he soon holed out in the deep off Simon Cook.
Top-scorer Alex Hales missed a slog-sweep against James Tredwell to go for 21 from 17 balls and Cook struck again by having Chris Read superbly caught late cutting by Geraint Jones, stood up to the stumps.
With the light fading faster than Nottinghamshire's victory hopes, Coles put the result beyond doubt by taking three wickets for three runs in five balls.
Franks was yorked, Graeme White heaved across the line to lose his off stump and Steven Mullaney waltzed across his stumps to be pinned leg before as Nottinghamshire slid to only their second defeat in nine game.
Coles finished with 3-7, while Cook and Azhar bagged two wickets apiece to secure Kent's fourth win of the competition.