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Kent crumble in reply to Pettini

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Kent crashed out of the Friends Life t20 after suffering two calamitous run-outs during a 23-run home defeat to Essex under lights in Canterbury.

The Spitfires’ fifth defeat of the campaign confirms the exit of the 2007 champions, but Essex, with five wins and 10 points, could still qualify by securing victory over Hampshire in Sunday’s final round of South Group games.

After Mark Pettini had impressed with 59, Kent made an appalling start in pursuit of 150 and never got out of first gear thereafter.

The hosts lost opener Sam Billings to former Kent seamer David Masters 27 balls into their response and then, with only 21 on the board after the powerplay overs, Rob Key attempted to accelerate with an ambitious clip to leg only to play around one from James Franklin and depart for seven.

Although Essex used six bowlers in the opening 10 overs of the reply, Kent’s top-order were seemingly unable to lay a bat on any of them and limped to the mid-point of their innings on a paltry 42 for two.

The Spitfires suffered further calamity soon after when Sam Northeast, having been dropped at deep midwicket by Tim Phillips, clashed when crossing for a second with third-wicket partner Darren Stevens and was run out by the return throw from Phillips for 16.

Mark Pettini

Essex opener Mark Pettini underpinned a winning score of 149 for five at Canterbury. The Eagles remain in the hunt for a quarter-final place

Stevens endured a similar fate one run and two balls later when, in calling for a single to cover, he was sent back by Azhar Mahmood and run out by Reece Topley’s throw for only 10.

Azhar had only 11 to his name when he chopped on facing Masters.

Alex Blake slogged two sixes en route to 16, but perished when looking to clear the ropes again off Topley. He sidled off with his side on 73 for six and Kent’s chances of reaching the last eight effectively went with him as they finished on 126 for nine.

Having been invited to bat at the start of the night, Essex lost New Zealand all-rounder Franklin without scoring after he steered the second ball of the night from Mark Davies into the hands of Key at short midwicket.

Former Eagles’ captain Pettini then combined with Greg Smith to add 98 in 12 overs for the second wicket, with the former the main aggressor.

The diminutive right-hander took 15 from one over of spin by Adam Riley, including a brace of sixes – the second of which landed in the top tier of the Frank Woolley Stand.

Pettini scampered to a 36-ball fifty but, with 99 on the board, Smith departed to a catch at long-off against Stevens.

Pettini, having been sent back when looking for a single to short-leg, was then run out by Key and Stevens struck again when Ryan ten Doeschate was stumped without scoring.

With the overs fast running out, visiting skipper James Foster attempted to clear the ropes only to pick out long-on and leave Stevens with excellent figures of 3-13.

Owais Shah helped himself to a six off Azhar in the final over and Essex were comfortably able to defend their total of 149 for five.

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