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Kent Spitfires lose by six wickets to Hampshire in NatWest T20 Blast

By KentOnline reporter

Kent Spitfires saw their Natwest T20 Blast hopes suffer a huge blow as they were blown away by a rampant Hampshire at Canterbury on Friday night. 

Despite a superb stand of 66 in less than seven over between Sam Northeast, who made a superb 59, and Sam Billings (40), Kent lost wickets at regular intervals and were punished for the needless running-out of Darren Stevens, who had hit 15 from seven balls.

Sam Northeast Picture Andy Jones

Sam Northeast Picture: Andy Jones

The hosts mustered just 23 runs from the 16 balls of the innings which remained after the evergreen all-rounder had departed, eventually posting 167-7.

The visitors made light work of the chase thanks largely to a blistering start from skipper James Vince and 20-year-old South African Calvin Dickinson, who made a rapid half-century on just his second T20 appearance having made his debut in Thursday's win over Glamorgan, in which he made just three.

Vince hung around to hit a half-century, adding 79 for the second wicket with Tom Alsop, and see his side to, if not over over the line, with George Bailey eventually securing a six-wicket win with more than two overs to spare.

Kent travel overnight to Somerset, where they play at 4pm tomorrow, realistically needing a win to keep their quarter-final hopes alive.

Hampshire won the toss and put Kent in and having gone for a golden duck against Sussex seven days earlier, Joe Denly fell to a third-ball duck when he sliced one horribly off Liam Dawson straight to Gareth Berg at a very short third man.

Sam Northeast joined Daniel Bell-Drummond and steered their side to 40-1 at the end of the six over powerplay, despite some tight bowling from Dawson.

Bell-Drummond saw his stumps rearranged after making room to have a swipe at a quick delivery from Kyle Abbott but getting the timing all wrong, leaving the hosts on 48-2 in the eighth over,

Sam Billings joined Northeast in the middle and after a watchful start he exploded with 14 off three balls in an expensive Mason Crane over which gave Kent some momentum.

Northeast continued to purr along at the other end and reached his 50 from 37 balls, reaching the milestone with his seventh four, which also took Kent into three figures.

He eventually fell to Dawson, inches shy of his first six, caught by Alsop after a superb 59 from 42 balls.

The pair had added 66 in less than seven overs and Kent were 114-3 but with Darren Stevens joining Billings, anything could happen.

Billings took Dawson for 10 from back-to-back deliveries as the spinner finished with 2-25 from four fine overs.

He was eventually on the end of a vicious yorker from Chris Wood to return to the dugout after 40 from 25 balls with two of them sixes and three more fours.

Stevens got some revenge, clubbing Wood for six over extra-cover, just his second maximum of the T20 blast.

In the next over from Kyle Abbott, Neesham tried to turn a single into two and ended up running 41-year-old Stevens out for 15 off just seven balls to leave his side on 144-5 with 16 balls to come.

Neesham didn't last much longer, flashing a drive off Abbott (2-25) only to be caught by a flying James Vince at cover for five while Matt Coles (4) scooped Berg (1-29) to Afridi soon after as the hosts closed on 167-7, adding just 23 off 16 balls after Stevens departed.

In reply Vince and Dickinson gave the visitors a perfect start as they cracked 67 off the opening five overs with a succession of boundaries and 31 runs coming off Imran Qayuum's opening two overs.

Youngster Dickinson clubbed 51 from 24 balls before miscuing one off Claydon to Matt Coles for the breakthrough to make it 72-1 in the sixth over.

Calum Haggett and Darren Stevens did stem the flow of runs before Qayyum returned to conceded just five off his third over, however the visitors were still 99-1 at the midway point.

Neesham had gone for 15 in his first over but allowed three from his second as Kent mopped-up by allowing 28 runs off a five-over stretch.

However only 50 were needed off the last eight overs and Tom Alsop and Vince picked up the pace with Vince smashing Qayyum for six to bring up his half-century from just 31 balls.

Qayyum (1-48) did have Alsop stumped by Billings for 32 from 34 balls but at 151-2 with more than five overs remaining the game was still all but up.

Stevens bowled Shahid Afridi (1) and Claydon deceived Vince, bowled for an imperious 57 from 36 balls, but the game was over when George Bailey (16* off seven balls) hit the winning runs to strengthen his side's grip on a knockout place.

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