Kent falter against Howell magic
Gloucestershire 156 for 4 (Mustard 42) beat Kent 152 for 8 (Denly 39, Billings 36, Howell 4-29) by six wickets
Gloucestershire maintained their unbeaten start to the NatWest t20 Blast season with a six wicket victory over Kent at Cheltenham College.
Having tied with Middlesex in a thrilling game last Friday, Michael Klinger's side went one better thanks to four wickets for 29 runs from Benny Howell and useful knocks from Phil Mustard, Ian Cockbain and Cameron Bancroft.
Kent made a decent start after being put in to bat thanks to Joe Denly and Daniel Bell-Drummond. However, when that pair were parted at 45 for 1 in the sixth over, it was Gloucestershire who took the game by the scruff of the neck.
Denley followed Bell-Drummond back to the pavilion 11 runs later when he was well caught by Tom Smith on the deep square leg boundary.
From 56 for 2, Kent slipped unceremoniously to 87 for 5 in the 12th over with Sam Northeast holing out to Smith, again on the deep square leg boundary. James Neesham edged Chris Liddle to wicket keeper Mustard and when Alex Blake handed Smith a third catch, Kent were struggling.
They appeared to be limping towards a rather modest total but Sam Billings and sixth wicket partner Darren Stevens had a different idea. Although Gloucestershire continued to bowl and field well, they progressed at 10 an over until Matt Taylor took a fine catch at backward square off the bowling of Howell to send back Billings for 36.
Howell, who had already taken the wickets of Northeast and Denly, added his fourth scalp before the end of the 17th over when Matt Coles holed out to Jack Taylor at long on for a first ball duck.
From that juncture, Kent limped to 152 for 8, leaving Gloucestershire a total that was always well within their grasp.
Openers Klinger and Mustard provided the perfect platform on which the hosts could build. The pair kept the board moving in the opening overs, with Mustard punishing anything up to the bat. They were eventually separated when James Tredwell bowled Klinger for 13 in the sixth over
Cockbain and Mustard added 41 for the second wicket before the latter carelessly drove T20 debutant Imran Qayyum to midwicket where Northeast took a smart catch.
Although Coles took an even better catch - one handed - to dismiss Cockbain for 31 at 108 for 3, Gloucestershire had already batted themselves within sight of victory.
Qayyum and Coles did their bit to claw Kent back into the game and the former bowled particularly well from the Chapel End, however, Bancroft once again proved his worth and with Howell batting as well as he bowled, the result was never really in doubt.
The pair added 40 for the fourth wicket and helped Gloucestershire to victory with six wickets and five balls in hand.