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Mark Pennell at Canterbury
May 30, 2014
Kent 136 for 7 (Blake 41) beat Gloucestershire 115 for 9 (Marshall 26, Riley 4-22) by 21 runs
Kent batted marginally the better of the two sides on a tricky Canterbury pitch to beat Gloucestershire by 21 runs and record their second NatWest T20 Blast win in as many starts.
In only his 17th T20 appearance, Kent's rookie offspinner Adam Riley proved the unlikely hero; fielding tigerishly at cover and bagging competition-best figures of 4 for 22 - including the scalp of Gloucestershire dangerman Hamish Marshall.
Gloucestershire, with one win and a defeat in their two previous matches, made a watchful start to their pursuit of 137 and lost the wicket of Chris Dent as soon as they attempted to open up.
Aiming to pull a short one from Mitchell Claydon, Dent was well caught to his left by keeper Sam Billings from a bottom-edged pull leaving his side 17 behind Kent's score after the six Powerplay overs.
Michael Klinger's decision to reverse sweep Adam Riley's second ball of the night cost him dearly as he missed to go leg-before for 25 and leave his side seemingly in trouble on 49 for 2 at the halfway stage of their reply.
Riley struck again in his next over, drawing Alex Gidman down the pitch with flight the ball skidded on to peg back middle and off and send Gidman packing for 17. Riley ensured competition-best figures when Ian Cockbain chipped to long-off then Benny Howell walked across his stumps to be bowled around his legs by Darren Stevens.
Riley rounded off a fine four-over stint by bowling Marshall for 26 as he looked to smear a straight ball over midwicket.
Doug Bollinger accounted for Cameron Herring and Graeme McCarter and David Griffiths castled James Fuller as Gloucestershire limped to 115 for 9 to give Kent a comfortable win.
Kent - unbeaten in their previous five completed Twenty20 matches against Gloucestershire that included the 2007 final - struggled to muster much more than a run-a-ball in a workmanlike if generally unspectacular 136 for 7 and having elected to bat.
Kent lost their first wicket in the fourth over of the innings when Daniel Bell-Drummond - top-scorer in Kent's opening win of the T20 Blast campaign against Somerset - clipped meekly to midwicket off Graeme McCarter to be well held by Gidman diving to his right.
With the ball never really coming onto the bat, Kent's Rob Key and Sam Northeast appeared to struggle in timing straight or cover drives. Instead, the pair took to paddles and slog sweeps, and were rewarded with a brace of boundaries that took them to 45 for 1 after the Powerplay.
Two balls later Key perished for 24 and, in doing so, gave another hint as to the difficulty of scoring smoothly on the two-paced surface when his mistimed leg-side flick against Tom Smith picked out Benny Howell running in off the ropes at deep-midwicket.
Northeast (17) paid the price for an ugly cross-bat smear against McCarter that floated into the hands of Ian Cockbain patrolling cow corner, just in from the St Lawrence lime tree. Five balls later, Billings miscued a back-foot force straight back to the bowler Howell to go without scoring and leave Kent on 63 for 4 at the mid-point of their allocation.
Darren Stevens, playing his 151st T20 match, temporarily lifted spirits by sweeping Smith for six over midwicket but perished five balls later for 21, chopping on when aiming to cut against Howell.
After missing a hat-trick of reverse sweeps, left-handed Alex Blake pulled off the shot of the innings when his cover drive on the up against McCarter sped to the extra cover boundary to raise the Kent 100 after 15.1 overs.
Blake and Adam Ball added 38 for the sixth wicket before Ball became the latest bat to mistime a cover drive to be caught over-the-shoulder by Klinger running back at extra cover off Howell, the pick of the visiting attack with 3 for 21.
In the penultimate over Blake, backing off the square leg, cut a Fuller-full toss for a huge six over backward point, only to be stumped off the final delivery of the innings for a competition-best 41 from 30 balls.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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