Kent fight back for remarkable victory
Kent 115 for 9 beat Middlesex 106 for 7 by nine runs
Pakistan pace bowler Wahab Riaz held his nerve in the final over of the night as Kent beat Middlesex by nine runs in an edgy, low-scoring Friends Life t20 affair in Canterbury.
Playing under their pristine retractable floodlights for the first time, Kent appeared out for the count at 21 for 6, yet the Spitfires hit back and moved up to fourth in the table after securing their third successive South Group win against the lacklustre basement visitors.
In pursuit of their modest target at an asking rate of only 5.8 an over, Middlesex were soon up against it once Paul Stirling and Scott Newman both miscued to mid-on against Azhar Mahmood slower balls.
Panthers skipper Neil Dexter pulled a short one straight into the hands of deep mid-wicket and when Jamie Dalrymple top-edged a paddle sweep against James Tredwell to the keeper alarm bells began to ring on the Panthers dug-out.
John Simpson nicked to slip to give Tredwell another scalp, Dawid Malan mistimed a hook to long leg to give Mahmood his third wicket and former Kent favourite Ryan McLaren then drove firmly back to Charles Langeveldt to make it 68 for seven.
The run-rate equation boiled down to 20 from the final over of the match from Riaz, but the Test left-armer kept his cool to concede only 10 to inflict a sixth defeat in seven starts on the Panthers.
Having been flown in by helicopter to conduct the toss, Kent skipper Rob Key duly lost the call and must have been ruing his luck as the Middlesex attack made hay in seamer-friendly conditions. The pitch initially prepared for the match had been ruined by yesterday's storms in the south east leading to an 11th hour switch to a new strip - a move that gave bowlers the edge throughout.
Joe Denly was first to suffer, falling for a duck to the fifth ball of the game from Anthony Ireland when a push drive took a thick edge and flew to former Kent player Dexter at slip. Within a further 37 balls nought for one became 21 for six as the Kent top-order capitulated on a sluggish wicket and against the seaming ball.
Mahmood, Kent's midweek century-maker in Beckenham, miscued to mid-wicket to go for one then Darren Stevens played outside the line of a Steven Crook off-cutter to also go for a single.
Sam Northeast set off for a suicidal single to mid-off to be run out by Paul Stirling's direct hit to the non-striker's end and Key, having hit Kent's first boundary in the sixth over, perished when he toe-ended a cut shot to tumbling wicketkeeper John Simpson.
With 13 overs remaining and only four wickets still intact Kent were forced to re-access the situation and their priority became batting out their allocation of overs. Spitfires added a precious 35 for the seventh wicket through brothers-in-law Geraint Jones and James Tredwell, who both hit sixes to lighten a sombre St Lawrence mood.
Jones skied one from spinner Tom Smith to go for 27, but Man-of-the-Match Tredwell went on to top-score with an unbeaten 34 from 28 balls including a further six that punched a hole straight through an advertising hoarding over the ropes at deep midwicket.
Overseas professionals Riaz and Langeveldt both made it into double figures as Kent limped to 115. Crook and Ireland bagged three wickets apiece but Kent had edged to a total they were just about able to defend.