Published: 09:00, 19 July 2021
| Updated: 12:21, 19 July 2021
Kent head coach Matt Walker praised his makeshift side despite a four-wicket defeat to Sussex Sharks on Sunday.
Spitfires were already assured of a home quarter-final after Friday night's stunning win at Middlesex, and now know they will host Birmingham.
The same players took to the field on Sunday but were up against an international-littered Sussex side that included England paceman Jofra Archer.
Walker said: “I think the fight and the courage that everybody showed, that hasn’t waned at all. Middlesex was something quite remarkable that will live with everyone who witnessed it for a very long time.
"Sussex was a step up against a side with world-class players and it was slightly more of a struggle, but I thought the boys fought really hard.
"We were 30 or 40 runs short, I think that was obvious and in the end it became a stroll for them but I think had we got 165, 170 on the board it could have been very interesting. I couldn’t ask any more from this group.”
Sussex joined Kent in the last eight as Luke Wright's 39 and Delray Rawlins’ 33 steered them home with 2.5 overs to spare.
Earlier Ravi Bopara took 3-15 and David Wiese 2-16 as a Kent side with 15 first-teamers still isolating struggled to 130-7, Calum MacLeod their top scorer with 31.
Kent won the toss and chose to bat, but Wiese quickly removed the openers, getting George Munsey caught by Oliver Carter for 11. Zak Crawley was given a life when Harrison Ward fell over while attempting to catch him at deep point, but Wiese then deceived him with a slower ball, which he chipped to Ollie Robinson at mid-on for 19.
Will Beer caught and bowled Heino Kuhn for four with his first ball, before Harry Finch and MacLeod partially rebuilt the innings with a stand of 44.
Finch, however, fell for 30, caught by Robinson off Bopara and when MacLeod was lbw to Rashid Khan, Kent were 101-5.
It was left to the lower order to nudge the score towards respectability. Dan Lincoln was caught by Wiese for 10 and the same combination removed Harry Podmore for a duck, leaving Marcus O’Riordan and Safyaan Sharif unbeaten on 13 and seven.
The target looked low and although Elliot Hooper bowled Phil Salt for a duck with the third ball of Sussex’s innings, Wright and Bopara put on 61 for the next wicket. There was a wobble when the former holed out to O’Riordan and was caught by Munsey for 39, and Bopara was out in the same over for 19, caught by Matt Quinn.
However, Crawley stumbled when well-placed to catch Rawlins and by the time Wiese was caught by Kuhn off Podmore for 21, victory was inevitable for the visitors.
Just two were needed when Kuhn made a diving catch off Podmore to dismiss Ward and Rawlins skied the next ball to O’Riordan, but Khan hit the winning runs.