August 5, 2001

Leicestershire go top after vital clash against Kent

Mark Pennell of the Kent Messenger Group

Leicestershire improved their chances of landing the one-day league crown for the first time since 1977 by securing a 14-run win over their title rivals Kent to open up an eight point lead in division one with a game in hand.

Batting first the Foxes got off to an electric start through Pakistan one-day ace Shahid Afridi and despite being pegged back in mid-innings, they went on to post a respectable 45-over total of 236 for nine.

Afridi smashed 24 from 11 balls to help the visitors post their first 50 in 33 minutes as Kent's new ball attack of Ben Trott and Martin Saggers served up too many wayward deliveries.

After the loss of openers Afridi and Iain Sutcliffe, Leicestershire re-grouped through Darren Stevens with 51 from 59 balls and Vince Wells, who scored 39 against his former team-mates at almost a run a ball in a third-wicket stand of 75 in 13 overs.

Kent established some sort of stranglehold on the run-rate later in the innings with the introduction of spinners Min Patel and Andrew Symonds who both claimed two wickets apiece, as did Mark Ealham, as three wickets fell in the final over of the innings, two to slower balls and one to a spectacular run out by Andrew Symonds.

Spitfires went out to bat facing an asking rate of 5.2 an over, but the early efforts of their pinch hitters went badly wrong as James Hockley, Andrew Symonds and Matthew Walker all played shots they would quickly want to forget.

Championship openers Rob Key and David Fulton came together to add 52 off 12 overs, but once in-form Fulton went for 46 the writing was on the wall for the home crowd.

Key chipped away to score 59 off 104 and Paul Nixon threatened to upstage his old-team-mates with a battling 55 off 63 balls but even he found the asking rate of 23 from the last over too hot too handle as the Foxes snared victory to extend their winning sequence to nine wins from as many starts.