Joe Denly's half-century led Kent Spitfires to a comfortable six-wicket win over Sussex Sharks in the Vitality Blast at Canterbury on Friday night.
Spitfires coasted home with seven balls remaining thanks to 33 not out from captain Sam Billings and some lusty hitting from George Linde.
Sussex had posted 158-7, with Linde taking 2-14 in four overs and Grant Stewart bagging 3-38.
Kent made an early breakthrough when, having won the toss and chose to bowl, Fred Klaassen had Mohammad Rizwan caught at gully for four with the fourth ball of the innings, but Ali Orr (36) and Harrison Ward (33) responded with a rapid partnership of 73.
Having endured a brutal debut at home to Gloucestershire on Tuesday night, when his only over went for 26, Jas Singh looked like getting a deserved wicket when Ward skied him to mid on, but Klaassen dropped the catch. Singh's only over this time went for 17.
Sharks reached 76-1 after eight overs but then imploded, with two wickets in the ninth over. Ward was run out by Qais Ahmad, chasing a non-existent single to point and Ahmad then caught Tom Alsop for one off Linde.
Orr fell in Linde’s next over, caught at deep backward square by Jack Leaning, and the same fielder caught Ravi Bopara off Ahmad for seven.
Delray Rawlins was given caught behind off Ahmad for 28 and Rashid Khan had made just three when he chipped Stewart to Tawanda Muyeye at mid off, before George Garton gave Sussex something to defend with 31 from 15 balls, before he edged the final ball of the innings to Klaassen to hand Stewart his third wicket.
Rawlins had Muyeye plumb in front for a duck in the first over of the chase but Henry Crocombe then dropped Jordan Cox off Steven Finn when he was on four.
Crocombe took his revenge when he tempted Cox into a miscue that was caught by Orr at short fine leg, dismissing him for 18, but Denly batted Kent into a winning position with another explosive innings that included a six off Will Beer that cleared the Frank Woolley stand - for only the third time in its history. He hit Bopara for another six as Kent reached 94-2 in the 12th over, but then edged the next delivery to Brocombe.
With Denly gone, Billings was left to anchor the chase. He lost Alex Blake lbw to Khan for six and the boundaries dried up, but managed to keep the scoreboard ticking over with Linde at the other end, chipping away at the target with ones and twos.
Kent needed 24 from 18 when Finn (0-39 in three overs) came on at the Pavilion End, but the former England man was pummelled for 18 runs, including successive fours off the final three balls from Linde.
Linde hit the winning run when he edged Beer and Orr couldn’t pull in a diving catch as Spitfires claimed what was only their third win in the group stages this summer.
Linde said: “It was a really good win, we asked for some bravery, we knew a big crowd was going to be in and we just wanted to entertain them.
"I think there was a bit of spin out there, but I think my bounce was key to be honest. I didn’t get a lot of spin, I think it was more my bounce, so I’m just glad it worked out well for me.
“What an amazing player he (Joe Denly) is, I saw he was second leading run scorer in the Vitality Blast and he showed his class again today. It’s amazing to watch.
“It’s always good hitting the winning runs for your team. It was good to have Billings there with me, trying to keep me calm and stuff. We had good game plans and it worked.
“It’s all about momentum, T20’s all about momentum. We’re out of the competition and I thought we were a bit unlucky in the first couple of games, they didn’t go our way. But that’s T20 cricket, one guy can take it away from you at times, but I’m pretty sure the boys will be back.”