Mahmood stars in crucial win
Kent 181 for 9 beat Surrey 166 by 15 runs
Former Surrey star Azhar Mahmood broke the hearts of a 15,000 crowd at The Oval with a stunning all-round performance that helped steer Kent to a crucial 15-run Friends Life t20 South Group win.
Mahmood top-scored by cracking 60 out of the Spitfires' total of 181 for 9, ran out home skipper Rory Hamilton-Brown to stifle Surrey's reply then, with 20 needed from his final over of the game, ran out Zafar Ansari with another direct hit to win the game with four balls to spare and help his side leapfrog Surrey into the qualification places.
Surrey's pursuit started badly when Steven Davies clipped a poor, leg-stump ball from Charl Langeveldt into the hands of Joe Denly at deep square, but at the other end Jason Roy was taking no prisoners. He deposited a six into the pavilion then hooked and cut to the ropes off Langeveldt before surviving a run-out scare with a full-length dive that defeated a direct hit by Sam Northeast.
Roy and Hamilton-Brown sprinted to a 50 partnership in 27 balls as Kent's attempt to take pace off the ball initially came unstuck until Roy, three balls after celebrating a 31-ball 50, holed out to long off against Darren Stevens. Hamilton-Brown departed for 29 after risking a single to mid-off to be run out by Mahmood's shy, then Stevens struck again having Zander de Bruyn caught at long-off for 7 from a toe-ended drive.
Mahmood then held a comfortable catch at short fine-leg to dismiss countryman Yasir Arafat from a mis-timed hook, after which Tom Maynard (36) picked out Denly at long-on to give Langeveldt flattering figures of 3 for 37 as Surrey ran out of steam.
Kent, having elected to bat first, banked 13 from the first over of the night bowled by their former allrounder Yasir Arafat, who was unlucky to see Key dropped at slip from his fourth delivery as Gareth Batty parried a sharp, one-handed chance to his left for four to third man. Key failed to capitalise, however, and was run out by Roy's direct hit from backward point as he dawdled for a single.
Roy was in the thick of the action again, taking a stunning mid-air catch at wide long-on five overs later to account for Denly, yet 16 came off the over once Mahmood clubbed a six and two fours.
Maynard at deep midwicket intercepted a chip destined for Stuart Meaker to run out Martin van Jaarsveld at the striker's end, bringing in Stevens, who quickly deposited two sixes into the OCS Stand against left-arm spinner Ansari. Mahmood cut fiercely for four against Yasir Arafat to move past 50 for the third time in this season's competition from 30 balls, then Stevens upper-cut for six over backward point two balls later.
Stevens clattered two more sixes off Batty in the 15th over but, in aiming for a third, holed out to Zander de Bruyn at deep mid-wicket to depart for 43 from 19 balls and end a scintillating fourth-wicket stand of 67 in 33 balls. Moments later Mahmood miscued to mid-off against Dirk Nannes to perish for 60 from 40 deliveries and Northeast quickly followed, skying a catch to Davies off Dernbach.
In a frantic bid for late runs the Spitfires suffered further run-outs when Jones and James Tredwell attempted suicidal singles - the six run-outs in the match representing a record for Twenty20 cricket - but they still posted the top t20 score at The Oval this summer.