Published: 22:00, 13 June 2021
| Updated: 22:21, 13 June 2021
Fred Klaassen went from zero to hero as Kent Spitfires made it three T20 Blast wins out of three on Sunday evening at Canterbury.
Klaassen dropped Kiwi Glenn Phillips in the deep midway through the Gloucestershire reply - but he put that behind him to take two wickets in two balls at the start of the final over to help Kent to victory.
Klaassen said: “It was absolutely a rollercoaster. On a personal level it didn’t start well. I put a catch down and was down there on the boundary and had a lot of time to think about it, but fortunately in the crunch moment I came out on top, so happy days.
"Jack Leaning showed his class again, they got us to 180 and that’s defendable out there, it gave us bowlers something to bowl at.
“(The final over) was almost the redemption over I think. I was struggling a little bit, up until then and I had a pretty clear plan. I know what to bowl, I backed myself and went for it.
"That first ball was on the money and to get a wicket first up and a new batsmen straight away, that works totally in my favour.
"The second one was a bit of a bonus and the run out by Qais (Ahmad) was absolutely brilliant.”
Kent opted to bat first but, for the second game in succession, they lost early wickets and were 16-3 in three overs.
Joe Denly (4) was bowled by David Payne for four from as many balls, Josh Shaw bowled Ollie Robinson for two, sending his off stump flying, and in then Alex Blake edged a brilliant full delivery from Payne to Phillips, who produced a fine one-handed catch behind the stumps.
Skipper Daniel Bell-Drummond and Jack Leaning steadied the innings with 76 for the fourth wicket. Bell-Drummond hit two sixes, including one over deep mid-wicket to reach his half-century in 38 balls but he was out to the next delivery he faced, bowled by Graeme van Buuren.
Payne had Cox caught at short third-man by a diving Matt Taylor for 15 and Kent were 131-5 with just over three overs left to bat.
But Leaning let loose at the death and he was supported by fans' favourite Darren Stevens, who hit one massive six. Leaning went to town, having reached his fifty from 40 balls he finished up unbeaten on a brilliant 81 from 51 balls.
Josh Shaw had figures of 1-8 from his first three overs but he returned to bowl the last and after Stevens took seven from the first two balls, Leaning finished up with successive sixes and then successive boundaries to take 27 in total from the over and leave Kent on 183-5 from 20 overs.
Gloucestershire had looked favourites after racing to 54 without loss in the sixth over, Chris Dent making 40 from 21 balls before he was caught at deep square leg by Leaning off Matt Milnes.
New overseas signing Qais Ahmad took a wicket in his first over, trapping Miles Hammond leg before as he tried a reverse sweep.
Ahmad had 13 runs taken from his next over, however, and then Klaassen dropped Phillips on 26 off Stevens in the next over - Gloucestershire were well placed at 94-2 from 10 overs.
Bell-Drummond turned to Joe Denly and he removed Ian Cockbain for seven, a juggling catch off his own bowling.
Ahmad switched ends and removed the dangerous Phillips for 38 from 23 balls, caught by Cox at long on.
Jack Taylor holed out to Denly (2-20 in three overs) and Ahmad finished with 2-34 as Kent squeezed the visitors to 134-5 in 16 overs.
But Howell had other ideas, taking three boundaries from a Grant Stewart over, and the visitors then needed just 10 runs from the final over.
Klaassen produced a brilliant yorker to remove Howell's leg stump and then Matt Taylor was caught next ball by Matt Milnes at short third man.
Two singles off the next two balls meant the visitors needed eight to win from two. Van Burren attempted a second run to Ahmad but wicketkeeper Robinson produced an excellent piece of work behind the stumps to run him out.
Shaw needed to hit the final ball for six to tie the game but could only dig out a yorker to the leg side for a single.