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T20 Blast: Kent suffer five-run defeat to Gloucestershire to set up must-win Essex clash

Kent missed out on an opportunity to qualify for the T20 Blast quarter-finals as they lost by five runs to Gloucestershire at The Spitfire Ground on Thursday.

Michael Klinger starred for the visitors with an unbeaten century, his eighth T20 ton, to lead his side to 180-3.

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis responded with a half-century on his debut for the Spitfires, who fell short on 175-8 to leave them needing a win against Essex on Friday to secure their place in the knockout stages.

Kent captain Sam Billings. Picture: Ady Kerry
Kent captain Sam Billings. Picture: Ady Kerry

Having opted to field first, Kent turned to Alex Blake to open the bowling and the part-timer didn't disappoint, conceding just two runs from the first over.

Fred Klaassen went for 13 in the next, including a six off the first ball from centurion Klinger.

Gloucestershire reached 57 without loss by the end of the powerplay, before Miles Hammond was caught by Zak Crawley off Imran Qayyum for 25 on the final ball of the eighth to end a 70-run opening-wicket partnership.

The wicket arrived amid a strong spell for Kent in which Qayyum and Blake went for just 35 between them while alternating across six overs, the former also dismissing James Bracey thanks to another Crawley catch.

Qayyum's quick hands were responsible for the next wicket as the spinner ran out Ian Cockbain for 13 in the 15th over.

The 16th over would prove an expensive one for Kent when Daniel Bell-Drummond went for 23 following three sixes.

Klinger eventually finished unbeaten on 102 off 65 balls alongside Jack Taylor's 26 not out.

Daniel Bell-Drummond. Picture: Ady Kerry
Daniel Bell-Drummond. Picture: Ady Kerry

Kent lost Bell-Drummond for two early on, before Crawley followed him back for just 10 shortly after to leave his side on 18-2 after 3.1 overs.

Their departure paved the way for a superb 122-run partnership between recent Spitfires signing Du Plessis and skipper Billings.

Du Plessis was dropped twice in what was a classy Canterbury bow which saw him reach his 50 from 35 balls.

Chennai Super Kings teammate Billings then chalked up his half-century in 37 deliveries, putting Kent in good shape until he holed out to Hammond off Ryan Higgins for 55.

Heino Kuhn was then run out for just four by Taylor, with Kent needing 32 to win upon Blake's introduction.

He restored some hope with 19 off eight before being caught by Cockbain off Higgins, and it got worse for Kent next ball when Du Plessis was caught for 60 to leave the hosts needing 12 from seven.

Ollie Robinson was bowled for two by David Payne and Hardus Viljoen was next to go courtesy of a superb run out from Hammond.

With six to win off the final ball, Mitch Claydon could only manage a swing-and-a-miss to leave Kent on 175-8 as Gloucestershire sealed their spot in the quarters.

Kent must now win against Essex at Chelmsford on Friday night to progress to the knockout stages.

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