Denly, Parnell help Kent defend 200
Kent 200 (Northeast 55, Roland-Jones 3-35) beat Middlesex 154 (Denly 3-20, Parnell 3-33) by 46 runs
Part-time legspinner Joe Denly was the unlikely bowling hero as Kent opened their Royal London Cup win account with a 46-run victory over South Group rivals Middlesex in Canterbury.
Having failed to defend 330-plus scores in their previous two games, Kent managed to protect a modest all out total of 200 with Denly bagging 3 for 20 to secure his side's first win in four starts and inflict a third defeat on Middlesex. Needing to score at a shade over four an over to record their second win of the campaign, Middlesex committed cardinal one-day errors in losing cheap wickets at regular intervals to fall woefully short.
The visitors lost Dawid Malan in the third over when the left-hander sparred outside off against Wayne Parnell to nick to second slip. Four balls later, Parnell, in his last home game of his current spell as Kent's overseas allrounder, ran one back up the Canterbury slope to trap Nick Gubbins lbw for a single.
Adam Voges and Nick Compton added 47 before Kent struck through Darren Stevens, who belied his 41 years by taking a stunning return catch from a Voges' drive to make it 49 for 3. Eleven runs later and Kent were celebrating again when a direct hit from 12th man Will Gidman, substituting for the injured Matt Coles, ran out John Simpson after Nick Compton had called for a sharp single to the cover fielder.
Coles returned after treatment for a sore shin to pocket a comfortable catch off the bowling of James Tredwell that ended Compton's 85-ball stay for a painstaking 37 and left Tredwell with 1 for 29 from his 10 overs.
Keeping pace off the ball, Denly struck to have Ryan Higgins caught behind and then, in his next over, he trapped Toby Roland-Jones lbw when working across the line. Middlesex, with only three wickets remaining, still required 78 going into their final 10 overs when Denly, leaping full-length to his left caught a rasping James Franklin drive one-handed to send the visiting skipper packing for 33.
Mitch Claydon replaced Denly to have James Fuller caught off a skier leaving Parnell to finish it with another reflex return caught-and-bowled catch that accounted for Ravi Patel and gave Parnell, the Man of the Match, deserved figures of 3 for 33.
Kent's day started badly when they again lost the toss in overcast conditions and were duly invited to bat with the floodlights already on. Their gloom deepened after only two deliveries when Daniel Bell-Drummond, fresh from scoring back-to-back hundreds in losing causes, feathered a defensive push against Roland-Jones into the gloves of Simpson to depart without scoring.
Home skipper Sam Northeast and second-wicket partner Denly, batting against his former county, steadied Kent with a stand of 52 that ended in the 13th over when Denly pulled a short one to midwicket where Voges held a stinging overhead chance.
Northeast, who enjoyed a life when on 24 after Voges downed a regulation slip chance, posted his 13th List A half-century from 73 balls and with six fours. He and Sean Dickson added 44 before the latter miscued his attempted pull against Franklin to mid-on to go for 29.
Northeast followed, sweeping against Patel to give a catch to the keeper for 55, having spent almost two hours at the crease. Alex Blake lasted only five minutes, tamely hanging his bat out to dry against Franklin, the left-hander went for 2 after edging a third catch to Simpson behind the timbers.
The procession of Kent batsmen to the pavilion continued when Stevens miscued to extra cover to gift Patel a second scalp, bringing together Adam Rouse and Parnell for a face-saving seventh-wicket stand worth 34. .With little to lose Parnell went for his strokes only to smear Malan's first ball of the day, a low full-toss, straight into the hands of Tom Helm at deep midwicket.
Coles edged an attempted drive against Helm to slip where Voges took off to hold a stunning overhead catch diving to his left, then, to the first ball of the third and final Powerplay, Rouse nicked an attempted cut to his Middlesex counterpart Simpson to give Helm a second wicket.
With four of their 50 overs still to be bowled, Kent's last man Claydon, who had just hooked the only six of his side's innings, was yorked by Roland-Jones, the pick of the Middlesex attack with 3 for 35 from his 10 overs.