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Warne's Hawks down the Spitfires in thriller

Matt Walker dismissed two balls from victory against Hampshire
Matt Walker dismissed two balls from victory against Hampshire

KENT hopes of reaching the Friends Provident Trophy semi-finals were left hanging in the balance after a dramatic two-run defeat to Hampshire at The Nevill.

At the start Kent chairman Carl Openshaw, who once led Tunbridge Wells to a Lord's final, suggested Spitfires should bat first and he was proved right as the surface never got easier.

Chasing 221 to win, Kent's pinch-hitting policy backfired and in no time Geraint Jones (7), having already been dropped, and then Andrew Hall (11) were back in the pavilion having worked across the line.

Darren Stevens (18) miscued a lofted drive high to cover then Martin van Jaarsveld (2) perished in near identical fashion, the ball holding up as he worked to leg.

Rob Key and Matt Walker lifted the spirits of a 6,500 crowd with a stand of 65 in 15 overs and Key posted the Spitfires' 100 with a firmly swept four off Shane Warne.

But Warne, the toughest of combatants, had the last laugh having Key (30) caught behind before bamboozling Joe Denly (2) leg before on the walk.

James Tredwell (4) nicked one to slip then Yasir Arafat (2) missed a slog to give Warne three for 30 and, at 136 for eight Kent, were in deep trouble.

But Walker, back in the side after a thumb injury, and Ryan McLaren kept the crowd on the edge of their seats with a thrilling stand of 69 to which McLaren contributed a competition-best 43.

Walker and Cook needed 16 off the last two overs and looked favourites when Walker lofted over long-on in Sean Ervine's penultimate over to see Michael Lumb parry the ball over the ropes for six.

But, with three needed from the last four balls Walker, on 83 from 117 deliveries, walked across his stumps to be given leg before and send Hampshire and Warne into a jig of delight.

Having been invited to bat first glued pitch, Hampshire were kept in check by accurate Kent bowling and Michael Carberry became Hawks' first casualty by nicking to the keeper, but Lumb and John Crawley re-built with a stand of 60 until Key's introduction of Stevens from the Railway End proved critical.

Stevens, who hardly ever bowled for previous club Leicestershire, proved nigh-on impossible to get away on this slow surface and Hampshire's frustration soon began to show.

Lumb (30) worked across the line to go leg before then, after a faultless 43, Crawley lost his head by top-edging a reverse sweep off Tredwell to short third man.

Stevens pegged back Ervine's off stump after he pushed down the wrong to finish his 10 overs with two for 19, before Tredwell snared Chris Benham (21) leg before to claim two for 46.

Hampshire's strong middle-order pair of Nic Pothas and Dimitri Mascarenhas dug in, however, and their sixth wicket stand of 82 meant Kent would be severely tested.

Their fun ended when Pothas (46) skied to mid-off when slogging against Yasir Arafat to spark a dramatic collapse in which the visitors lost their last five wickets for 15 runs and in the space of 15 balls.

Kent's chances of making the last four will now hinge on Wednesday's final qualifier against Gloucestershire back at Tunbridge Wells when six teams from six all stand a chance of going through.

SCORES Hampshire 220 all out after 49.4 overs, Kent 218 all out after 49.3 overs.

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