Malan condemns Kent to first defeat
Middlesex 193 for 3 (Malan 76*) beat Kent 191 (Bell-Drummond 51, Cowdrey 44) by seven wickets
Royal London Cup quarter-finalists Kent lost their unbeaten tag after crashing to a seven-wicket win to Group B rivals Middlesex in Canterbury.
Though nothing rested on the outcome, Middlesex coped best with a dry, spin-friendly St Lawrence pitch to outperform Kent in all facets and canter to only their third win in the new format against the previously unbeaten hosts.
Having skittled Kent for a paltry 191, Middlesex coasted to victory with 37 balls to spare courtesy of an unbeaten 76 from Dawid Malan for his part in an unbroken fourth-wicket stand of 59 in tandem with captain Eoin Morgan.
Batting first after losing the toss, Kent never got to grips with a wicket used twice previously for Twenty20 matches. With the new ball the surface proved slow and two-paced, then offered assistance to all three Middlesex spinners.
The home openers flourished briefly against the visiting seam attack as Daniel Bell-Drummond and acting captain Sam Northeast punished anything marginally short to post 30.
The stand finished in bad fortune when Northeast, in aiming to cut Gurjit Sandhu, found a thick edge to be caught in the gully via a ricochet off the gloves of wicketkeeper John Simpson.
But it was the introduction of spin that sparked a dramatic collapse. Kent went from the 21st over through to the 35th without scoring a boundary as they set about losing their last eight wickets for 82 runs to be dismissed with 41 balls of their scheduled 50 overs remaining.
Ben Harmison played across one to be bowled by Harry Podmore then, after a bright 63-ball 50, Bell-Drummond fell seven balls later when he feathered one to the keeper against left-arm spinner Ravi Patel.
The same bowler then drew Darren Stevens down the pitch and turned one past the outside edge for a comfortable stumping and, after a workmanlike cameo 44 without a boundary Fabian Cowdrey scooped one to midwicket off occasional spinner Malan.
Alex Blake was bowled around his legs by former Kent opener Joe Denly then Calum Haggett, in attempting to sneak a leg-bye to the keeper, was run out by Simpson's underarm shy.
James Tredwell swished at Toby Roland-Jones to be caught at the wicket and Mitch Claydon holed out to against Denly. Kent's last pair Sam Billings and Doug Bollinger, in his farewell appearance for the club, added 23 for the 10th wicket before Billings danced down the pitch to Malan to gift another stumping to Simpson.
All out by 4.38pm, Kent posted their first sub-200 total in this year's 50-over competition and faced the ignominy of having to bowl 12 overs before the official innings break.
By then, Middlesex had cruised to 56 for 1 and were in total control of their pursuit. The visitors lost opening bat Chris Rogers for 23 when he lent back to cut Bollinger to be well held low in the gully, but Malan and Paul Stirling looked untroubled in batting through to the interval.
The visitors had a hundred on the board before Tredwell deceived Paul Stirling in the flight for Billings to complete the stumping then, with 58 more needed, Denly misjudged against Cowdrey to go lbw but it proved the final success of a disappointing Kent display.