Published: 22:18, 27 August 2021
| Updated: 22:18, 27 August 2021
Kent Spitfires are through to finals day for the first time in 12 years after a brilliant T20 Blast quarter-final win over Birmingham in Canterbury on Friday evening.
A sell-out crowd of 4,000 roared the Spitfires to victory after half-centuries from Daniel Bell-Drummond and Sam Billings set them on their way.
After three previous quarter-final defeats in six years, Billings said: "It's been a bit of a hurdle for us to get over. It's great to get there, it's been a long time coming.
"We're happy with how we're going and we've got a strong side. We've had a couple of really close quarter-finals before so it's nice to get back at finals day.
"We thought at the toss it would be 200 plays 200 but it turned a bit and some flew through. Miles bowled nicely for them and it was a bit two-paced. We knew if we could get 160 or 170 we were in the game with our death bowling.
"We've got fantastic support down here, we always have done, they've supported us brilliantly the whole time and it's great for them to be back at another finals day as much for the fans as the players.
"It's exciting that we're back there. We are a good side and we know if we turn up (on finals day) we will be hard to beat."
Matt Milnes took 4-24, Jack Leaning 2-7 and Qais Ahmad 2-13 in four overs, as the Spitfires smothered the Bears, who finished on 141 all out, chasing Kent’s 162-7. Jacob Lintott was their top scorer with a quickfire 41 in 20 balls when the game was all but up after their top order collapsed.
Billings earlier hit 56 and Bell-Drummond 53 for Kent. Tim Bresnan took 4-26, with Chris Woakes claiming 1-37 on his return from injury.
Kent were put in and lost Zak Crawley for just four when he lofted Woakes to Adam Hose in the second over.
Denly was deceived by Bresnan’s slower ball and caught by Lintott for 11 but Bell-Drummond and Billings rebuilt the innings with a stand of 50, the former smashing Danny Briggs for successive sixes, before he suffered a freak dismissal when Billings’ drive crashed into his stumps and ricocheted to Lintott, who ran him out.
Leaning was caught and bowled by Craig Miles for seven and Alex Blake holed out to Bresnan and was caught by Chris Benjamin for eight. Woakes’ last over, the 19th, went for 16, but Bresnan took wickets from successive balls, getting Billings caught on the boundary, before Sam Hain took a juggling catch to remove Jordan Cox for nine.
Adam Milne hit the hat-trick ball for six and finished on eight not out, but the target looked low until Birmingham limped to 55-6 in reply.
Hose was stumped off Denly by Billings for eight and Benjamin was caught and bowled by Milnes for 11. Ahmad bowled Rob Yates for 19 and Leaning trapped Hain lbw for five before bowling Will Rhodes with a full toss for three. Michael Burgess swiped Ahmad to Crawley for six and Woakes made 14 before he skied Milnes to Blake.
Although Lintott and Bresnan went down swinging, Milne bowled the former, leaving the Bears needing 25 from Milnes’ final over. Cox took a superb catch to get rid of Bresnan for 24, stepping over the rope and back in again, before Miles skied the final delivery to Blake.
Kent will face Sussex Sharks in the semi-final at finals day with Hampshire Hawks facing Somerset in the other tie on September 18 at Edgbaston.