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June 15, 2011
Kent 167 for 2 beat Gloucestershire 166 by eight wickets
Pakistan bowler Wahab Riaz starred with the ball and compatriot Azhar Mahmood excelled with the bat as Kent defeated Gloucestershire by eight wickets in their Friends Life t20 South Group game in Beckenham.
Left-armer Riaz overcame a case of the jitters to take five wickets in seven balls, including a hat-trick, and Mahmood then clattered an unbeaten 106 from 57 balls to guide Kent to their second win of the campaign with seven balls to spare.
Riaz, on his home debut, conceded 13 in his first over and appeared edgy, aborting his run-up twice before sending down his first ball, but his decision to bowl around the wicket for his second over saw an upturn in his fortunes.
After electing to bat first, the Gladiators were cruising at 77 without loss and seemingly destined for 200 as openers Kevin O'Brien and Hamish Marshall made hay. Marshall was dropped on 37 at long-on, while Riaz, Mahmood and Geraint Jones all misfielded as the visitors cantered along at 10 an over until the introduction of England offspinner James Tredwell helped stem the flow of runs.
Adam Ball broke the opening stand by having O'Brien caught at deep midwicket by Sam Northeast for 34, then visiting top-scorer Marshall went for 47 from 30 balls when he chipped Tredwell to Joe Denly at long-on.
Ian Cockbain ran himself out on 20 attempting a single to Darren Stevens and Tredwell claimed his second scalp by having Kane Williamson caught in the deep for 21 by Denly. But it was the re-introduction of Riaz, switching to the Crystal Palace End, which turned the game Kent's way.
Having stalled in his run-up twice more, Riaz eventually found his range by bowling Chris Taylor for 5 as the batsman walked across his stumps aiming an audacious paddle to leg. Ed Young, in looking to run the next ball to third man, edged to wicketkeeper Jones and then Richard Coughtrie lost leg stump when making room to force through the covers. It was Kent's second hat-trick in the competition following Ryan McLaren's t20 final treble against the same opponents at Edgbaston in 2007.
In his next over Riaz castled Alex Gidman (28) and David Payne, leaving Muttiah Muralitharan to survive the next and deny Riaz a unique double hat-trick. Muralitharan was run out off the final ball of the innings, however, leaving Riaz with figures of 5 for 17 from his three overs and Kent's first five-wicket haul in competition history.
Chasing 167 at 8.35 an over for victory, Kent lost skipper Rob Key for 5 early on when Marshall pulled off a stunning low catch at long leg off the bowling of Payne, but that was the cue for Mahmood to cut loose. As Gloucestershire's bowlers struggled to cope with a greasy ball, Mahmood teamed up with Denly to add a Spitfires' competition-best stand of 135 in 13.4 overs that all but assured the win.
Denly holed out after a 44-ball 50 but Mahmood careered on to his maiden Twenty20 century from 54 balls with 12 fours and three sixes and hit the winning runs with a driven four through long-on off Ian Saxelby.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.