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Alex Winter at The Oval
July 5, 2012
Kent 136 for 8 (Key 35, Blake 35) beat Surrey 88 (Mahmood 3-12) by 48 runs
This was much more like the Twenty20 the ECB invented. A balmy evening, a five-figure crowd and a decent match to boot. Kent won it to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals.
There were 14,990 in the ground - the largest T20 crowd this season anywhere - a good section of them Men of Kent, or indeed Kentish Men, who created a lively beer-fuelled atmosphere, complete with pint glass snakes and (albeit clothed) streakers, as Kent continued Surrey's disastrous run in the competition and put them, now mathematically, out. After winning their first two matches, Surrey have lost six on the spin and this was a shocker, fired out for their lowest all out total in T20s.
This latest defeat was a great surprise. Surrey decided to bowl on a surface that went on to turn quite significantly and restricted Kent with their four spinners, three of whom took wickets and the fourth, stand-in skipper Gareth Batty, went for only 27 in his four overs.
The pick of the spinners was Murali Kartik. He opened the bowling and went on to claim 1 for 19. It was fine stuff and it turned. Little did Kent try to hit him and when Darren Stevens did, he only ballooned a catch up to Kevin Pietersen - his second of three.
Pietersen's first victim was a fine effort, tumbling in from mid-on to take Sam Northeast's back-foot drive that spooned off the toe of the bat. The sunglasses-wearing Pietersen also took Rob Key's in-to-out drive off Zafar Ansari - the last spinner to be introduced and who proved the most expensive despite picking up two key wickets, the other being the dangerous Azhar Mahmood, stumped as he drove outside off stump and left his ground.
Key was the man to glue things together for Kent. He played carefully in testing circumstances - wickets falling and Dirk Nannes racing in to bowl at 90mph - but his ending was unsatisfactory. Key's dismissal exposed a weak lower order shorn of West Indies batsman Brendan Nash, attending the birth of his child, and James Tredwell, called up to the England squad for Saturday's ODI.
It was left to Alex Blake, a 23-year-old Kent academy product, to push Kent to some sort of score. He played the reverse sweep very well, first off Ansari and then two overs later off Batty for boundaries backward of point. But the latter 20 runs of his 26-ball 35 would not have been made had Nannes held him on the midwicket boundary before skipping over the rope. Blake hadn't caught a slog-sweep off Ansari correctly but struck the only six of the match.
It was another Kent academy product - there were five in this team - that sent their side to victory. Adam Riley proved a fine replacement for Tredwell. He is a tall lad, 6ft 2in, bowled with control and was prepared to flight the ball. The spinning wicket gave him encouragement and he proved very difficult to score off, sending down four overs for 17 runs, removing Matthew Spriegel, lbw playing across a straight one, and Zander de Bruyn, effectively the match-winning wicket. Advancing down the pitch, De Bruyn didn't get to a length ball that turned down the leg side and was easily stumped.
It was de Bruyn and Ansari that tried to work Surrey back into the chase with a stand of 45 in 8.5 overs - it was not a stand to light up Surrey hopes but moved them from out of the game at 18 for 4 to needing 73 from 8 overs, a more amicable target. But Ansari was bowled by Stevens and Murali Kartik run out without facing a ball to kill the chase. The remainder of the order petered out and Surrey were dismissed with 2.3 overs to spare.
It was a scenario not thought possible with a low target and the power of Surrey's top order. But they crumbled in the first four overs: Pietersen driving outside a Mark Davies in-ducker, Jason Roy walking across his stumps, Rory Burns chipping to midwicket and Steven Davies edging Mahmood behind trying to cut.