Middlesex 154 for 6 beat Kent 141 for 7 by 13 runs
Kent's hopes of reaching Twenty20 finals day for the fourth successive season virtually evaporated under the lights at Lord's where rookie Middlesex spinner Tom Smith inspired Panthers to a 13-run win. In only his seventh t20 appearance 22-year-old Smith bagged excellent figures of five wickets for 24 runs to derail a Kent run chase which started strongly only to fade with the loss of three wickets in as many overs.
The defeat leaves Kent next-to-bottom in the South Group with seven defeats from nine starts, while a fourth success for Middlesex maintains their hopes of reaching the knockout stages and assured a winning end to Adam Gilchrist's short sojourn as acting Panthers' captain.
Chasing 155 for victory at a rate of 8.5 an over, Kent made a flying start through Rob Key and Martin van Jaarsveld (25) who matched the Panthers first-wicket stand by posting 54 before van Jaarsveld miscued to backward point against Smith. The left-arm spinner then turned one past the outside edge of Geraint Jones' bat as he advanced down the pitch to gift Adam Gilchrist a simple stumping and send the right-hander packing for four.
Having hit 42 from 40 balls Kent skipper Key was out-foxed by new Middlesex captain Neil Dexter, whose canny slower ball forced Key to drag a lofted straight drive into the hands of Tim Murtagh at long-on and make it 80 for 3. With the asking rate now beyond 10 an over, Smith struck again in his next over when Murtagh took a stunning boundary catch on the run at wide long-off that accounted for Alex Blake.
With 50 required from the last four overs Azhar Mahmood had little option but to go for the straight boundary, but again Panthers accepted another difficult catch, this time through David Warner .
Smith tossed one up to allowing Darren Stevens to sweep for six, but followed it with a flatter, quicker ball that turned to give Gilchrist a second stumping and give Smith excellent figures of five for 24. Dangerman Stevens sidled off with 23 against his name and Kent's chances of victory went with him.
Batting first on a tricky, two-paced pitch being used for the third time in just over a week, the entire Middlesex top-order made starts only to perish once they elected to go aerial in an effort to clear the boundary ropes.
In his farewell appearance for Middlesex, Gilchrist found himself opening up against 19-year-old left-arm seamer Ashley Shaw who was making his Spitfires debut. Gilchrist and his compatriot, Warner, posted 54 for the first wicket inside seven overs until Warner (29), in attempting to hit the third ball of the night from Malinga Bandara over the bowler's head, found a thick outside edge to short third man.
Having hit two fours and a six in his 28 - his highest score in five appearances at Lord's - Gilchrist's heave across the line skied to mid on where van Jaarsveld, having run from midwicket took a good catch. Kent did well to restrict Middlesex to 18 runs from the next six overs and remove Dexter and Owais Shah, who both hit hard, low drives straight to the fielder at long off .
Dawid Malan, after a cameo 41 from 24 balls and with three sixes, smeared a back-foot force straight to Sam Northeast at long on. Mahmood's slower ball enticed Scott Newman to hole out and though Gareth Berg heaved two sixes into the grandstand in Shaw's final over, yet there remained a underlying sense that the Panthers had underachieved.