August 29, 2001

Kent sustain NUL dream after Yorkshire's dramatic collapse

Mark Pennell of The Kent Messenger Group

Kent Spitfires cut Leicestershire's lead at the top of the Norwich Union League first division to just two points after surviving yet another last ball finish to land a eight-run win against Yorkshire in Canterbury.

Just two days after their last ball victory over Gloucestershire at Bristol, Spitfires managed to defend their disappointing 45-over total of 216 courtesy of a three wicket burst in four balls in the final over of the game by the league's leading wicket-taker Martin Saggers.

With Phoenix needing 13 runs for a victory that would have hauled them clear of the relegation dogfight, Saggers ran in to remove the off stump of David Byas with his second ball, york Richard Dawson with his next and then have Richard Blakey caught on the long-off boundary to secure Kent's ninth win of the campaign.

The hosts looked as good as beaten at the mid-way point of the reply as Darren Lehmann and Anthony McGrath reached 89 for two, but in-form Lehmann made a vital misjudgement in reverse sweeping Min Patel to top edge a catch to fly slip.

McGrath, who was dropped on seven after skying a chance to deep cover, re-grouped by way of a fourth wicket stand worth 108 in 21 overs with Craig White.

Just 62 were required with 10 overs to go and, with seven wickets in hand, a partisan St Lawrence crowd of 4,000 were watching in silence as their title hopes seemingly slid away.

But then White holed out to long off and McGrath, after reaching his maiden league century from 139-balls, ran himself out to revive Kent's victory and title hopes once again.

The hosts were probably 20 short of what they perceived to be a defendable total as only James Hockley with 66 from 82-balls managed to post a half-century on a slow but true pitch.

Hockley was one of three wickets taken by Lehmann's left arm spin in a burst of three for five in eight balls that ripped the heart out of the home middle order batting.