Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Heino Kuhn inspires Kent as Essex fall short in chase

Heino Kuhn launches into a drive Getty Images

Kent 175 for 6 (Kuhn 55*) beat Essex 153 for 7 (ten Doeschate 58*) by 22 runs

Kent Spitfires maintained their leadership of the Vitality Blast South Group after defeating Essex Eagles by 22 runs at a jam-packed Canterbury. An unbeaten 55 from Heino Kuhn coupled with some wily bowling and a decent fielding stint helped ease the hosts to a third straight victory in front of their biggest crowd of the summer.

In pursuit of 176 at an asking rate of 8.8 an over, Essex lost dangerman Cameron Delport in only the third over. Having set off for a risky single to cover, the South African - fresh from his 129 of 49 balls against Surrey - was rightly sent back by Varun Chopra only to lose the race against Adam Milne's spectacular direct hit.

Tom Westley followed in Hardus Viljoen's next over, losing his off stump when working across the line, then Kuhn held on to a stunning catch, diving full-length to his left at cow corner to account for Chopra.

The asking rate was already above 10 an over as Eagles reached 67 for 3 after 10 overs when Dan Lawrence smeared across one from Viljoen to be caught at wide mid-off. Then, when Ravi Bopara clattered an innocuous wide and short delivery from Fred Klaassen to extra cover, Essex's chase was all but run despite Ryan ten Doeschate's valiant, unbeaten 58 - the top score of the game.

Batting first after winning the toss, Kent openers Daniel Bell-Drummond and Zak Crawley posted 51 in 29 balls before Essex removed Crawley, bowled around his legs after missing a Matt Quinn full-toss.

Crawley was replaced by Ollie Robinson, who duly launched the first six of the night over mid-wicket off the bowling of Bopara as Kent reached 93 for 1 at the innings mid-point. Bopara won revenge in his next over when Robinson, in risking another slog-sweep from outside off, dragged the ball onto his stumps.

Kuhn, back in the Spitfires side having missed Kent's opening two games under the concussion protocol, opened his boundary account with a reverse paddle against Simon Harmer and then clattered Delport back over his head for six.

Bell-Drummond was caught at deep midwicket for a season's best 43 then, two runs later, Mohammad Nabi danced past his first ball, a turning delivery from Adam Zampa, to gift Adam Wheater a stumping.

With 30 deliveries remaining, Alex Blake aimed for the short, leg-side boundary only to hole out and give offspinner Simon Harmer his sole success in a canny spell of 1 for 28. With boundaries hard to come by - Kent went 28 balls without one - Spitfires' rookie Jordan Cox skied to midwicket, only for Kuhn to redress the balance by taking 21 off Shane Snater's last over to finish unbeaten with 55 from 31 balls.

Essex 2nd innings Partnerships

1st20V ChopraCS Delport
2nd8V ChopraT Westley
3rd20RN ten DoeschateV Chopra
4th26RN ten DoeschateDW Lawrence
5th16RS BoparaRN ten Doeschate
6th37RN ten DoeschateAJA Wheater
7th23RN ten DoeschateSR Harmer
8th3RN ten DoeschateS Snater