Kent study controversial finale
Essex 158 for 6 (Foster 51) beat Kent 155 (Smith 5-17) by 3 runs
Greg Smith took five wickets in two overs in a controversial climax as Essex collected their first Friends Life t20 success of the campaign with a three-run victory against Kent at Chelmsford.
Kent's chase was going steadily until the start of the 17th over, at which point they were 118 for 3. From that point, Essex hoover up seven wickets for the addition of 37 runs, including three sixes with Smith finishing with 5 for 17.
A six-run penalty against Essex for a slow over-rate moved Kent's chase closer but with four runs officially needed to win off the final ball, Graham Napier bowled last man Mark Davies.
Confusion about the score in the closing stages added to the uncertainty with Kent insisting they actually needed two runs from the last ball and Matt Coles saying as he left the ground that he had scored eight runs, not six as shown in the scorecard.
His view was supported by other independent statisticians and left scorers and statisticians anxious to study video evidence.
Prior to the tense finale, Foster's innings was the main attraction. Foster hit four sixes in a top score of 51 in 27 balls as Essex posted 158 for 6, with James Franklin's 39 the next best contribution. He arrived in the 11th over with only 69 on the board and brought much-needed impetus to his side's cause with a swashbuckling knock.
His effort included four sixes and two fours before he departed in an eventful final over sent down by Kent's pace bowler Matt Coles. It cost 24 runs including one delivery that cost eight runs when Foster despatched a no-ball for six. Foster also hit another six in the over, as did Adam Wheater before he was bowled.
Thanks to that onslaught, Essex amassed 53 from the final four overs, Coles conceding 46 from his full allocation.
James Franklin was Essex's other main contributor, striking six boundaries in his 39. He was bowled by Adam Ball after sharing in a stand of 53 in eight overs for the second wicket with Graham Napier, who was run out in the same over for 20.
Kent's hopes of launching their reply on a solid foundation were ruined by David Masters, playing against his former county. In his third over, he bowled Rob Key for five and had Azhar Mahmood leg before with his next delivery. Although Kent reached the halfway stage without further loss, they had progressed to only 61.
Darren Stevens fell for 21 but opener Sam Billings and Brendan Nash brought about an acceleration with a fourth-wicket stand of 54 in seven overs.
Medium-pacer Smith then made a dramatic impact in the 17th over, removing Billings for 59, an innings containing four fours and two sixes and spanning 55 balls, and Nash with successive deliveries.
He then bowled Geraint Jones for a single but Kent made a tremendous effort to reach their target despite the clatter of wickets.
Sam Northeast hit two sixes while compiling 14 before he too became a victim of Smith, who also removed Matt Coles on his way to career-best figures.