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August 13, 2014
Kent 299 (Bell-Drummond 83, Billings 51, Arafat 4-49) beat Sussex 183 (Joyce 47, Tredwell 4-27, Claydon 3-26)
Kent retained their unbeaten tag in the Royal London Cup and stretched their Group B lead to four points with a hard-earned 59-run win over Sussex in a rain-affected clash at Canterbury.
A heavy shower during the break between innings coupled with a second shower early in the Sussex reply left the visitors in the driving seat when facing a revised target of 243 in 35 overs.
However, James Tredwell's seven-over stint of 4 for 27 - against the team he rejoins on County Championship loan later in the week - restored Kent's superiority and helped land a deserved fourth win, and with it, almost certainly, a home tie in the quarter finals.
Having restricted Kent to 299, the Sussex reply started uncertainly once Luke Wright fell in the seventh over. His rasping drive against Doug Bollinger picked out Ben Harmison diving to his left at cover point.
Three overs later, Chris Nash feathered a Darren Stevens away swinger to slip just moments before rain arrived for the second time sparking the loss of a further 10 overs.
After the resumption, Craig Cachopa, the young New Zealand-raised South African batsman, got his side ahead of the Duckworth-Lewis rate for the first time with a brace of fours off Darren Stevens.
Cachopa undid his good work in the next over, however, lobbing a simple catch to mid-off against offspinner Tredwell, who then trimmed the off stump of Ed Joyce as the left-hander made room to cut.
Kent pushed further ahead under Duckworth-Lewis when Calum Haggett snared Matt Machan lbw with the third ball of a new spell. Then, when Mitch Claydon returned to rearrange Ben Brown's stumps, any lingering hopes of a Sussex win evaporated.
Batting first having lost the toss, Kent would have expected to post in excess of 320 after a reasonably bright start on a parched, white pitch that appeared conducive to batting.
The hosts had 36 on the board before acting captain Sam Northeast instinctively followed and edged behind off a Lewis Hatchett leg-cutter that went down the St Lawrence.
Spitfires' second-wicket partners Daniel Bell-Drummond and Harmison repaired the damage with a no-frills stand of 69 in 13.1 overs that ended when Steffan Piolet's slower ball fooled Harmison into chipping a catch to long-off.
Fabian Cowdrey upped the run-rate tempo with an eye-catching 40, while Bell-Drummond posted his half-century from 60 balls and with four fours.
In tandem the pair added 74 in 11.1 overs before Cowdrey fell lbw when walking across his stumps and aiming to leg against Chris Liddle to make it 179 for 3.
With Bell-Drummond seemingly well established, Kent called their batting Powerplay soon after only for the young right-hander to clip the very first ball from Yasir Arafat straight to cover to go for 83.
Kent never re-established their momentum thereafter and, while looking secure in scoring ones and twos, a succession of batsmen perished when attempting anything more lavish.
Stevens was yorked when driving at Arafat, who then had Alex Blake caught on the deep cover ropes to finish with figures of 4 for 49 against his former county.
Sam Billings did his best to farm the strike in posting an unbeaten 51 off 39 balls with three fours and six, but two runs outs and two more miscues saw Kent dismissed with one ball of their innings remaining.
Billings, who has reaped 337 cup runs at an average of 168.5 - having passed 50 four times - was delighted by the win that guaranteed Kent's passage and a home quarter-final tie.
"The pitch got better as the night went on and the ball skidded on beautifully under lights, so for Sussex, it was a great toss to win, but our bowlers did superbly well to hit those difficult lengths," he said. "I felt we might have got 315 batting but, when anyone tried to accelerate they got out, and we were left having to rebuild.
"It was a hard pitch to just come in and go hard from ball one. I was happy with the way I played because I had to get in and work it around before I pushed on.
"The great thing is we won tonight, yet we might have been better in all facets of the game. We've got that improvement to come so, although we're a young team, we feel we can take on anyone right now.''
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