Published: 21:25, 30 August 2019
| Updated: 21:28, 30 August 2019
Kent Spitfires missed out on a spot in the last eight of the T20 Blast as they were beaten by 10-runs against Essex at Chelmsford on Friday night.
The hosts were led by a classy half-century from opener Cameron Delport to post 189-6 after electing to bat first in a bid to seal a quarter-final spot of their own.
Zak Crawley supplied a fabulous 89 in reply but saw a poor tail-end showing consign Kent to defeat at 179 all out.
Alex Blake went for 12 off his first over as opening pair Tom Westley and Delport worked to 20-0 after two overs.
Their partnership was soon brought to a halt when Westley was caught by Faf du Plessis at extra cover off the bowling of Fred Klaassen to depart for just five.
Kent squandered a glorious chance to dismiss dangerman Delport when Imran Qayyum dropped the opener for 22 at mid-on.
Klaassen responded superbly by bowling Adam Wheater next ball for eight for his second wicket of the night.
A huge six over long-off from Delport brought fifty up for Essex before the hosts ended their powerplay on 55-2.
Delport reached a stylish 50 from 24 balls in the eighth over, hitting Qayyum for six before reverse-hooking the spinner for two and completing his half-century with a single.
Daniel Bell-Drummond, who went for 23 off one over against Gloucestershire on Thursday, got off to a tough start with the ball as Delport fired two sixes.
It proved one big-hit too many on the final ball of the over, however, when the opener was caught by Heino Kuhn in the deep to leave on 64.
Ryan ten Doeschate was next to go, skying a Bell-Drummond delivery with the safe hands and composure of Kuhn waiting underneath it to take a vital catch.
Kent continued a decent spell through Qayyum, who bowled Dan Lawrence for 25 upon his return to the attack to reduce Essex to 112-5 after 12.1 overs.
A Paul Walter four moved his side onto 148 but the Essex man was bowled by Mitch Claydon next ball to exit on 21.
Essex could have been down to seven in the final over had Bell-Drummond managed to keep his hands on a Bopara shot to the boundary.
The former England batsman then hit a six on the final ball of the innings to take Essex to 189-6 at the close.
Kent got off to a similarly positive start with the bat, three fours from Crawley taking them to 15 without loss after the first two overs.
A 47-run opening partnership between the pair came to an end when Bell-Drummond was caught at mid-wicket by Bopara off the bowling of Jamie Porter to go for 10.
Du Plessis wasted no time in introducing himself to the Essex crowd, firing a stunning six over long-off followed by a one-bounce four down the ground as Kent ended the powerplay on 60-1.
Crawley eventually brought up his fifty with back-to-back fours, taking him to 52 off 28 deliveries.
'Hit the strip son' was then the call from a spectator who had just seen a Simon Harmer full-toss punished by an enormous six from Du Plessis.
The Kent pair brought up their 50 partnership in the 10th over to take their side to 97-1 at the halfway point.
Essex hit back with a much-needed wicket in the 12th over, Bopara taking an excellent catch off Adam Zampa at mid-wicket to dismiss Du Plessis for 32 and end the South Africa skipper's 63-run stand with Crawley.
The momentum began to lean back in favour of the home team when Sam Billings was caught by Lawrence for seven off the bowling of Harmer.
Zampa was the man to finally bring Crawley's innings to an end for a superb 89 thanks to a catch from Harmer, with the Essex fans sensing a key moment for the Eagles.
With Kent needing 30 to win off the last three overs, Kuhn was then bowled by Bopara for 12 to bring Ollie Robinson to the crease.
The Spitfires wicketkeeper didn't hang around for long as he was caught by Harmer off Bopara while attempting to find the boundary over long-off.
Kent's chances were dealt another crushing blow when Mohammad Amir bowled Blake and Qayyum in successive deliveries, leaving the visitors needing 16 to win from the final over.
Both Viljoen and Claydon were bowled by Porter in the final over as Kent fell short on 179 all out in a heartbreaking conclusion after what had been such an encouraging start to the competition.
Essex meanwhile secured their spot in the quarter-finals after seeing Hampshire lose to Glamorgan.
Essex: Westley, Delport, Wheater (wk), Lawrence, ten Doeschate, Bopara, Walter, Harmer (captain), Amir, Porter, Zampa.
Kent: Bell-Drummond, Crawley, Kuhn, du Plessis, Billings (captain), Blake, Robinson (wk), Viljoen, Qayyum, Klaassen, Claydon.
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