Published: 21:40, 23 August 2019
| Updated: 09:50, 24 August 2019
Kent Spitfires suffered an agonising one-run defeat to Surrey before another sell-out crowd in the Vitality Blast at Canterbury on Friday.
Chasing the Surrey total of 171-7 which was a few more than they might have expected at one stage, Kent were given the perfect start by Daniel Bell-Drummond and Zak Crawley whose brilliant century opening stand looked to have set up a successful chase.
Crawley went to a competition best 59 while Bell Drummond made 64 – his third T20 half-century of the summer but Surrey then applied the brakes and when Jade Dernbach removed Bell-Drummond and Alex Blake in the penultimate over Kent were suddenly up against it.
They needed 12 off the last over, bowled by Sam Curran, and six from the final ball to win, but Heino Kuhn could only manage four.
Earlier an excellent spell of 3-22 by spinner Imran Qayyum had pegged Surrey back before a brilliant knock of 63 by Will Jacks rescued them from 117-6 with 52 runs coming from the final three overs.
Kent went into the contest without Afghanistan all-rounder Mohammad Nabi –whose deal has finished –and New Zealand paceman Adam Milne, who underwent surgery on his ankle on Tuesday.
Matt Milnes – with 45 championship wickets to his name – was handed his T20 debut alongside 21-year-old offspinner Marcus O'Riordan, who only signed his first professional contract earlier this month.
Surrey chose to bat after winning the toss and Aaron Finch began in imperious form, taking three fours and a six off Milnes' opening over – the second.
The Australian had raced to 25 from 12 balls when he got a leading edge and was neatly caught and bowled by Fred Klaassen falling forward.
Surrey finished the power play on 49-1, and were moving along sedately rather than spectacularly when Kent struck in three successive overs.
First Qayyum had Sam Curran caught in the deep by Milnes for 23 from 21 balls (one six, two fours) to make it 68-2 and with the first ball of the next over, Bell-Drummond yorked Mark Stoneman.
The left-hander had struggled for fluency in comparison to opening partner Finch facing 27 balls for his 24, which included just three boundaries.
Qayyum was celebrating again in his second over, bowling Ben Foakes for two to leave the visitors 82-4 and in his third he had Ollie Pope brilliantly stumped by Ollie Robinson for 14, leaving Surrey 94-5.
Their 100 came up in the15th over, but in the17th Jordan Clark dragged on a ball from Hardus Viljoen (1-32 from four overs) to be bowled for 10.
That made it 117-6, after which Jacks cut loose to dominate a stand of 54 with Ryan Patel whose share was just five not out.
Jacks plundered eight sixes in a scintillating knock as he raced to 63 from 27 balls before being caught in the deep by Kuhn from the final delivery of the innings.
That gave Klaassen his second wicket of the evening but the left-armer conceded 44 runs. Bell-Drummond finished with 1-31 from four overs while O'Riordan took 0-13 from his two and Milnes 0-25 from two.
Surrey's blistering finish with the bat could have given them the momentum when they bowled but Bell-Drummond and Crawley completely took the sting out out of their attack.
They had the odd slice of luck, but both men looked largely accomplished, Crawley going to his maiden fifty from 30 balls with two fours and three sixes.
Bell-Drummond followed suit with the score at 112 but the stand was ended three runs later when Crawley was stumped by Foakes off Tahir. He had faced 42 balls.
Bell-Drummond and Heino Kuhn (32 not out) then added 39 and the hosts looked comfortably on course with 24 needed from the final 18 balls with nine wickets intact.
However Bell-Drummond fell in the penultimate over, caught at cover by Stoneman off Dernbach having faced 49 balls and hit seven fours.
Blake followed three balls later for two, leaving Kuhn and Billings to score 12 from the last over which proved just beyond them.
There was a nice touch before the start when the injured Milne was awarded his county cap by skipper Billings.
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More by this authorMark Stokes