Robert Key stars as Kent keep hopes alive
Kent 194 for 1 beat Sussex 167 for 9 by 27 runs
Kent kept their faint hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals of the Friends Provident t20 alive with an emphatic win over leaders Sussex at Hove. An unbeaten 98 for Rob Key and 53 not out from Martin van Jaarsveld inspired Kent to only their third win in 10 matches.
The Spitfires set a daunting total of 194 for 1 and despite a muscular 44 from Matt Prior the Sharks were always struggling to keep up with the required rate as they finished on 167 for 9 to lose by 27 runs.
Key deserved a century for his performance as he and Joe Denly put Kent in command right from the start with a stand of 90. Denly made the most of a reprieve in the first over when a mistimed drive fell inches short of James Kirtley at mid off.
It was the first of a number of unfamiliar mistakes in the field by Sussex and Kent made them pay. They took only 13 from the first three overs but accelerated from there with Key hitting Dwayne Smith for three consecutive fours.
The former England man also hit Yasir Arafat for successive fours and smashed Will Beer straight down the ground for six as he raced to his 50 off 31 balls. Denly was made to look slow in comparison before he was finally dismissed for 38 off 34 balls, run out by a direct hit by Arafat when he was sent back by Key.
The arrival of Van Jaarsveld only served to increase Kent's momentum with the pair putting on an unbeaten 104 in 9.2 overs. Van Jaarsveld only offered one chance when Smith put down a difficult catch as he matched Key by bringing up his 50 off 31 balls. Key looked set for a deserved century but finished two short on 98 off 55 balls with 14 fours and one six.
Sussex's hopes of chasing down Kent's total were hit when they lost Ed Joyce, Murray Goodwin and Smith early in their reply. Prior kept them in it with 44 off 26 balls, including three fours and three sixes, and together with Chris Nash put on 45 for the fourth wicket.
The England wicketkeeper was caught on the boundary going for another big shot and Nash followed in identical fashion two overs later. Andrew Hodd and Joe Gatting both hit two sixes to leave Sussex needing 42 from the last three overs but Matt Coles removed them both in the 18th over to kill off Sussex's challenge.