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Kent Spitfires (141-9) lost to Middlesex (143-3) by seven wickets


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Kent Spitfires' miserable T20 form continued on Sunday when they were outplayed by Middlesex at Lord's.

Skipper Sam Billings won the toss but that was as good as it got, Spitfires posting a modest 141-9 before Middlesex eased home with few alarms.

Sam Billings - top scored for Kent with 29 off 33 balls against Middlesex. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Sam Billings - top scored for Kent with 29 off 33 balls against Middlesex. Picture: Barry Goodwin

Joe Denly had hit a boundary in each of the first two overs but succumbed to the final ball of the third over, nicking a drive behind off Tom Helm for 10, leaving Kent 22-1.

Zak Crawley, making only his fourth T20 appearance of the summer for Spitfires, drove straight down the ground from the second ball he faced. But he went for 11 in the fourth over, an ugly heave off Martin Andersson going straight up in the air, caught by a tumbling John Simpson.

Billings had a let-off when spilled by Chris Green off Jason Behrendorf on three and then nearly ran himself out off the next delivery as Spitfires closed the powerplay on 38-2.

Jordan Cox looked lively at the start but added only 35 in nearly seven overs alongside Billings before taking on the spin of Thilan Walallawita and skying to short fine leg for 23.

Alex Blake (3) took on the short leg side boundary but picked out Andersson off Chris Green (2-18) to leave Spitfires 70-4 in the 12th over.

Billings hit Walallawita for successive boundaries as Spitfires attempted to increase the run rate. But then Billings’ reverse sweep off Luke Hollman in the next over went straight to Behrendorf and he departed for a 33-ball 29, leaving Kent 86-5 in the 14th over.

George Linde hit what was only the ninth boundary of Kent’s innings but was then bowled by Andersson, dragging on a wide delivery, to fall for eight, Spitfires 98-6 in the 16th over.

Jack Leaning brought up the Kent hundred and it was left to him to try and steer the visitors to a defendable total.

He scored the first six of Kent’s innings over square leg off Behrendorf but went for 20 off 14 balls at the end of the 17th over with Spitfires 118-7.

Qais Ahmad (8) walked across a straight one from Green two balls later before Fred Klaassen went for six off the penultimate ball to Helm (2-20).

Matt Milnes - dropped on seven by Walallawita - finished 14 not out as Spitfires posted 141-9, 38 runs coming off the final four overs.

The first ball of Middlesex’s reply was flicked fine off his legs by Stephen Eskinazi for four, with 10 coming off Klaassen’s opening over

Eskinazi hit two sixes to the short leg side boundary but it proved his downfall when he lofted Klaassen to Leaning, departing for a 15-ball 28 with Middlesex 42-1 in the fifth over.

Linde struck with just his third delivery, enticing Max Holden to hole out to Cox at long off for 12, the hosts 47-2.

While Linde’s first over went for just two, Middlesex were able to work the Kent spinners around relatively comfortably thereafter.

They needed just 62 off the last eight overs with eight wickets in hand, prompting the return of Klaassen to the attack but he was deposited over mid-wicket for six by Joe Cracknell - the first Middlesex boundary since the fifth over.

Cracknell and Simpson's fifty partnership took just over seven overs but it was broken when Klaassen trapped the latter in front for 46, with Middlesex just four runs from victory.

Linde was the most economical of the Kent attack, his four overs producing figures of 1-23, but Klaassen (2-43 in 3.3 overs) and Milnes (0-30 in three overs) proved expensive.

Head coach Matt Walker said: "It’s a similar performance to a number of games.

"We never got going in the powerplay and then got stuck in the middle. I thought they bowled well in that stage and we just couldn’t get a partnership going.

"To get ourselves up to 141 was a decent effort in the end but we knew we were 20-30 runs short.

“It was going to take everything to go absolutely perfect for us to defend that. I thought we bowled well in parts but we needed early wickets in the first six overs.

"They didn’t come and they got a partnership going, which made it fairly straightforward."

Kent Spitfires host Gloucestershire at Canterbury in the T20 Blast on Tuesday (7pm).

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