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Kent Spitfires (162-6) lost to Somerset (166-2) by eight wickets in T20 Blast

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Kent Spitfires started their T20 Blast defence with a defeat against Somerset at Canterbury on Wednesday night.

Spitfires were beaten by eight wickets in what was a repeat of last summer's final, as - just like the four-day game so far this season - Kent found wickets hard to come by in the field.

Jack Leaning on his way to 72 not out for Kent Spitfires against Somerset on Wednesday night. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Jack Leaning on his way to 72 not out for Kent Spitfires against Somerset on Wednesday night. Picture: Barry Goodwin

Kent won the toss and opted to bat first but any hopes they had of putting a formidable total on the board were a distant memory as they were reduced to 33-4 in the eighth over.

Zak Crawley, who had spent the day with the England Test squad, drove back to Canterbury for six balls. He produced a lovely straight drive for four but departed when he found a leading edge to Roelof van der Merwe off Josh Davey (1-18).

Daniel Bell-Drummond went for 12, caught by Lewis Goldsworthy when trying to pull Lewis Gregory.

Skipper Sam Billings, making his first appearance of the summer after playing in the IPL, nicked Gregory behind for five and Joe Denly never looked fluent, bowled by a Ben Green delivery that kept awfully low for five from 16 balls.

Kent's Joe Denly is bowled by one that kept low against Somerset. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Kent's Joe Denly is bowled by one that kept low against Somerset. Picture: Barry Goodwin

Jordan Cox and Jack Leaning led the Kent recovery with a partnership of 52 in 43 balls but the former went tamely for 11, chipping Goldsworthy to short cover.

George Linde raised the Kent hundred when he smashed Goldsworthy for six over long-on in the 16th over, one of two maximums he scored in the over.

The next over saw Leaning reach his half-century, hitting a massive six beyond the flats - his third maximum in a 31-ball knock that also included two fours.

Linde and Leaning put on 46 in 22 balls before Linde slapped Gregory to Tom Lammonby at long-on for 29 in 15 balls, Spitfires were 131-6 with 17 balls remaining.

Grant Stewart wasted little time to get going, hitting two boundaries in the remainder of Gregory’s over as the Somerset man finished with 3-25 from four overs.

Leaning hit the penultimate ball of the innings for six - his fifth of the evening - and scampered back for two off the last delivery to finish 72 not out from 43 balls as Kent added 110 runs in the last 10 overs, ending on 162-6.

Tom Banton, with two previous T20 hundreds against Kent, went for nine, hitting Matt Milnes to Leaning on the leg side boundary in the fourth over.

Somerset finished their six-over powerplay on 38-1, with Will Smeed looking dangerous but he then slapped Fred Klaassen to Cox for 21.

Billings didn’t turn to spin until Qais Ahmad joined the attack in the ninth over and Somerset reached the halfway stage of their innings on 62-2.

Rilee Rossouw and captain Tom Abell (48 not out) put on a fifty partnership in 41 balls to edge Somerset closer to victory, the former slicing Ahmad to Bell-Drummond on 49 but he was unable to take a one-handed catch.

Somerset needed just 41 to win from the final four overs with eight wickets in hand, but Ahmad (0-38) promptly went for 15 when he finished off his wicketless evening with the ball.

With a heavy dew, Kent's bowlers struggled to grip the ball while fielding was far from easy.

A Rossouw six off a Milnes full toss brought up the hundred partnership in 68 balls, and the South African finished unbeaten on 81 from 54 balls after hitting the winning runs.

Billings, reflecting on opting to bat first, told Sky Sports: "In hindsight of course it was the wrong decision.

"They were very unusual conditions at Canterbury, normally it is a very good wicket and obviously with two overseas spinners we would have liked a little bit more turn.

"We got outplayed, they used the conditions brilliantly to their advantage.

"Jack Leaning was very smart, there was a big breeze going across the ground and he made the most out of that.

"We thought we were in the game at the halfway stage and if we got early wickets with the new ball I think there was still enough there.

"It's a long tournament, there's 13 group games to go and it's good to get a performance like that out of the way early."

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