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Kent Spitfires (190-5) lost to Gloucestershire (195-4) by five runs in T20 Blast at Canterbury

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Kent Spitfires produced a much-improved batting effort but fell just short of victory against Gloucestershire in the Vitality Blast at Canterbury on Tuesday night.

Spitfires won the toss and elected to bowl first but half-centuries from Ian Cockbain and Glenn Phillips saw Gloucestershire post 195-4.

Jack Leaning - finished 37 not out off 18 balls on Tuesday night. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Jack Leaning - finished 37 not out off 18 balls on Tuesday night. Picture: Barry Goodwin

Jordan Cox, Alex Blake, Sam Billings and then Jack Leaning all contributed but Spitfires had just too much to do at the death.

Leaning (1-17) had opened the bowling and he struck in the first over to remove Miles Hammond for four, after Tawanda Muyeye took a steepling catch.

Chris Dent and Cockbain took Gloucestershire to 49-1 after the powerplay and although Qais Ahmad’s next over went for just three, debutant Jas Singh’s first over went for 26 as he never recovered from a no ball with his first delivery, before Dent hit a four and six, and Cockbain then hit him for successive sixes.

Dent (62) holed out to Qais (1-27) in the next over and was caught at long-on by Blake for 40, but it did little to arrest the visitors’ momentum. Cockbain (64) smashed Qais back over his head for four to pass 50, before finally falling when he hit Matt Milnes to Blake at long-off.

When Matt Quinn went off injured after five balls of the 18th over, he was replaced by Joe Denly (1-16), who immediately bowled Jack Taylor for 12.

Phillips was dropped by Blake at the start of the 19th and he hit Milnes’ next delivery, a full toss, for six to reach his half-century.

Grant Stewart (0-30) bowled the final over for six, ensuring Gloucestershire didn't reach 200.

Kent kept up with the run rate for the first three overs of the chase before Josh Shaw had Muyeye caught at deep square by Ryan Higgins for 11.

Denly (31) was caught by a diving Shaw off Tom Smith for 31 in the tenth over and Smith then returned the favour in the 12th with a juggling boundary to remove Cox (32) off Shaw’s bowling, although replays suggested his foot was on the rope when he initially threw the ball in the air.

Billings, dropped early on, injected some belief with two sixes off Phillips at the start of the 14th but he was out for 26 off 13 balls when he hit Mohammad Amir (2-30) down Taylor’s throat.

Amir conceded just six runs off the 16th over before Blake and Leaning dragged the hosts back into contention. The 17th over went for 15 and the 18th for 13, but Amir, who signed for the Spitfires in 2021 but never actually played, had Blake caught on the boundary in the 19th.

Stewart would have been out to the next ball after Hammond took a deflected catch, but the umpire signalled a no-ball, leaving Higgins to defend 19 off the final over. The first two balls, to Leaning, were dots, the third went for four and the fourth for two.

Leaning hit the fifth for six, meaning a maximum off the final ball would have given Kent a tie, but he could only manage a single.

Blake, 33, said: “It’s not been the greatest campaign so for us it was a case of expressing ourselves I think, that’s what we spoke about.

"We had quite a big chat after the Lord’s game and we just said let’s go out there and not hold anything back.

"That’s what we did with the bat and we got pretty close, but unfortunately couldn’t get over the line, but that was a bit more like the old Kent of last year and we’ll be taking that into the last three games.

“I thought they bowled pretty well at the end there, I found it pretty tough to get Amir away, which is why he’s a world-class bowler I guess.

“We know what Jack can do, he did it all last season and me and Sam (Billings), we actually said in the changing room, let’s make it like the old days, let’s go out there and win games again for Kent.

"We thought we were going to do it and obviously we both got out, but Sam freed himself up, played beautifully and got the momentum going and myself and Jack chipped in as well.

"We know we’ve got the firepower but we can’t seem to get it all going at the moment.”

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