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Kent Spitfires (170-7) lost by 31 runs to Sussex Sharks (201-7) at Hove in Vitality Blast

Kent Spitfires suffered a fourth successive Vitality Blast defeat when they lost by 31 runs at Sussex Sharks on Thursday night.

The visitors failed to chase down the hosts’ imposing 201-7 despite a half-century from captain Sam Billings.

Captain Sam Billings made a half-century at Hove on Thursday night. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Captain Sam Billings made a half-century at Hove on Thursday night. Picture: Barry Goodwin

Head coach Matt Walker conceded: “It was lost in the powerplay, frankly. We were unable to find the length which was most effective.

“Xavier Bartlett showed the right length, he was outstanding. Their bowlers found their lengths and they were tricky early on.

“A par score today was 175-180 and they went 20 past it., it was too much. We gave them too many runs.”

Kent needed Zak Crawley to fire in their reply but the England opener’s struggles continued as he was out for a sixth successive single-digit score. It means Crawley is averaging just 8.85 from seven T20 knocks this summer, accumulating 62 runs from 46 balls.

Crawley was bowled in the opening over by England’s Ollie Robinson for four and it was 7-2 in the second over when Marcus O’Riordan edged Nathan McAndrew to first slip.

With Joe Denly ruled out by injury, it was left to Daniel Bell-Drummond and Billings to repair the damage.

They looked the part as they added 93 for the third wicket in 10.2 overs. When James Coles went for 19 in one over, and also dropped Bell-Drummond, a steepling catch, it looked a possible turning point. But Sussex captain Tymal Mills responded by bringing himself on at the other end and immediately bowled Bell-Drummond for 37 off 34 balls.

In the next over, Billings (51 off 35) sent a lofted drive to Robinson at wide long-off and the match looked over. There was a spirited 34 from Joey Evison but Sussex’s Danny Lamb completed an impressive all-round display with figures of 3-37 as Kent closed on 170-7.

Earlier, Sussex reached 68-0 in the powerplay despite Kent conceding just three runs from the first two overs.

In those six overs, Daniel Hughes faced just nine deliveries. but Harrison Ward made up for at the other end. He reached his fifty from just 24 balls, with some long hitting, both straight and to the short boundary on the left-hander’s leg side.

Kent broke through in the seventh over when Hughes, who had swung Matt Parkinson for two sixes, was well caught by Bell-Drummond at long-leg as he attempted a third. Ward followed in the next over, caught by Harry Finch on the deep mid-wicket boundary., for 61 off 28 deliveries, with six fours and five sixes.

Beyers Swanepoel bowled John Simpson for three in the ninth and in the next over Tom Alsop was lbw to Parkinson for just two. When Coles (21) gave Parkinson his third wicket, also lbw, Sussex had lost five wickets for just 36 runs and were 117-5 in the 12th over.

But some late hitting by Lamb, who managed 40 from 32 balls, saw Sussex past 200 as Swanepoel (1-53) and Grant Stewart (0-51) came in for some treatment. Parkinson finished with 3-31 and Xavier Bartlett returned 2-27.

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