Kent’s dismal Friends Provident t20 campaign continued on Thursday night with a 13-run defeat to Middlesex Panthers at Lord’s.
Slow left armer Tom Smith took the plaudits for the home side with figures of 5 for 24, while former Kent all rounder Neil Dexter’s economical medium pacers claimed 1 for 18. The Spitfires struggled for momentum and partnerships on a slow, low pitch, chasing 155 for victory. Rob Key with 42 and Darren Stevens with 23 (pictured) were the only batsmen to threaten an away victory.
Searching for a change in fortunes after back-to-back defeats to Somerset and Surrey at Beckenham, left-arm seamer Ashley Shaw was handed a debut in place of injured James Tredwell, while Joe Denly also sat out. Shaw, 19, took the new ball as Middlesex won the toss and elected to bat.
Australian openers Adam Gilchrist and David Warner raced to 44 in the opening four overs. Simon Cook and Malinga Bandara picked up two wickets each in their four overs, as the pitch began to lose its early pace. Dawid Malan briefly threatened to steal the show with three sixes in a breezy 41, before picking out Sam Northeast at mid-off for Matt Coles’ only wicket.
Gareth Berg then took a liking to Ashley Shaw in his final over, hitting him for successive sixes in an unbeaten 26 as Middlesex finished on 154 for 6.
Openers Rob Key and Martin Van Jaarsveld benefited from some sloppy fielding to reach 37 without loss after five overs. Key brought up the 50 partnership in the seventh over with an excellent extra cover drive, only for Van Jaarsveld to lose concentration two balls later with a slice to short third man off Tom Smith.
Geraint Jones was stumped for just four as the run-rate began to climb and Key succumbed on 80 for 3 in the thirteenth over.
Alex Blake and Darren Stevens could do little to bring the run rate down. Blake was impressively caught on the long-off boundary by a sprinting Murtagh, who just kept his balance to stay inside the rope. David Warner showed just as much composure, clinging on to Azhar Mahmood’s powerful off drive when the game was up at 105 for 5. Smith bagged his fifth wicket when Darren Stevens was stumped on 113 for 6 and despite a late flurry of boundaries from Matt Coles, Kent were left too short needing 20 runs off the last over.