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Kent Spitfires (81-3) lose to Surrey (103-5) by five runs on Duckworth–Lewis–Stern method in T20 Blast at The Kia Oval

A rain-shortened Vitality T20 Blast game saw Kent Spitfires edged out by South group leaders Surrey at The Kia Oval on Sunday.

Surrey, put in and with an unfamiliar batting line-up, reached 103-5 from 10 overs after play finally got under way more than two hours late.

Feroze Khushi - top scored for Kent Spitfires with 35 off 19 balls in their Duckworth–Lewis–Stern T20 defeat to Surrey on Sunday
Feroze Khushi - top scored for Kent Spitfires with 35 off 19 balls in their Duckworth–Lewis–Stern T20 defeat to Surrey on Sunday

And then more rain - arriving just as Kent were about to start their response - left them needing 87 from eight overs under the Duckworth–Lewis–Stern calculations.

Despite late hitting from Feroze Khushi, who made 35, and Sam Billings, who swept Reece Topley for six in a seventh over costing 20 and in which Khushi also bludgeoned a six over long-on, Kent could only finish on 81-3.

It was Surrey’s seventh win from 10 games but Kent have now lost seven of their first 10 group games and look to be dropping out of contention for a top-four finish and a quarter-final place.

There were several decisive moments in a fast and furious affair, the first a brilliant fourth over from leg-spinner Cameron Steel (1-4) in which he conceded only four runs and also bowled the dangerous Tawanda Muyeye for 22.

Muyeye hit Dan Worrall (0-22) for a slashed four and a superb lofted six to long-on in the second over but Jordan Clark (0-6) allowed only six runs from the third over and then Steel’s fine over left Kent 29-2, with half their innings gone.

Grant Stewart - returned figures of 2-24 at the Kia Oval. Picture: Keith Gillard
Grant Stewart - returned figures of 2-24 at the Kia Oval. Picture: Keith Gillard

Khushi smashed Chris Jordan (0-21) over long-on for six and Billings hit the Surrey captain, returning alongside Topley (2-27) from England’s T20 World Cup campaign, for four over mid-off to keep Spitfires in the hunt.

But Khushi’s dismissal from the final ball of the penultimate over - well held by Steel diving forward at long-on - felt like a massive momentum swing back to Surrey as it left Kent needing 17 from the last over.

Jordan began with a no-ball, from which a leg bye was scampered, but new batsman Tom Rogers could only dig out a yorker from the free-hit opportunity.

Although he cut Jordan away for four from the next ball, he and Billings (14 not out) could not find the boundary again as Jordan's accuracy under pressure closed out the game.

The other decisive moment in the match came right at the end of the Surrey innings when they were 94-5 with just one ball remaining to be bowled.

Up until then, and despite two offside wides, Grant Stewart (2-24) looked to be succeeding in keeping Surrey’s total below 100 but he then sent down a waist-high no-ball full toss, which Ben Geddes swung away high for six behind square.

That brought an extra ball, from which a bye was scampered and, in all, 19 runs came from the over, which had started with Clark crunching an extra cover four before being caught at long-off for seven.

There were five other sixes in Surrey’s effort - the first two pulled by former Kent League Premier Division player Laurie Evans from paceman Nathan Gilchrist (1-23) and also off-spinner Marcus O’Riordan (1-12).

Evans, coming in after Ryan Patel had departed in the first over, skying Stewart to keeper Billings after one lovely off-driven four, made a punchy 25 before he hit O’Riordan to long-off.

Dom Sibley muscled Matt Parkinson’s leg-spin (0-15) for six over long on in his 20, which ended to a catch at deep mid wicket off Joey Evison, while Jordan pulled the medium pacer for six and Rory Burns produced a remarkable-swept maximum off Gilchrist.

Jordan mishit Gilchrist high to mid-off to go for 14 and Burns finished 11 not out as he and ex-Kent loanee Geddes, who was unbeaten on seven, saw Surrey to a total that proved – just – defendable.

Kent saw Daniel Bell-Drummond fall for a duck to the second ball of their reply, hitting Topley high to deep square leg, where 19-year-old debutant Ollie Sykes held the catch.

Spitfires skipper Billings said: “It’s fine margins and we dropped a couple of catches and let them get a few too many runs in the end.

“We bowled pretty well and I thought Matt Parkinson showed his class by bowling two overs and only getting hit for one six - which was almost out - over the short legside boundary.

“Tom Rogers also bowled extremely well but we then didn’t quite get the powerplay we wanted at the start of our innings and 40 on the board after five overs left us with a lot to do.

“We actually did well to get as close as we did, so there were positives for us despite the disappointment of losing the game.”

Kent play Essex at Chelmsford next on Thursday before they face Sussex Sharks at Canterbury the following day.

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