Kent 156 for 2 beat Essex 153 for 8 by eight wickets
A superb innings from Robert Key took Kent to a convincing eight-wicket win over Essex in Friday's Friends Life t20 encounter at Canterbury.
Key, the Kent captain, scored 75 in a quality innings as he helped Kent reach their target of 154 with 13 balls to spare after Essex had been restricted to 153 for 8 in their innings.
Key and Joe Denly got the innings off to a brisk start as they put on 55 in under seven overs before Denly departed for 20 when he gave a return catch to left-arm spinner Tim Phillips.
Phillips, the competition's leading wicket-taker this season, took his tally to 20 with Denly's scalp.
However, Essex failed to curb Key or Azhar Mahmood as the pair added 97 runs for the second wicket in 11 overs that included some lusty hitting and was boosted by some sloppy Essex fielding.
Key was finally run out with only two runs needed for victory. He had faced 52 balls and collected nine boundaries. Mahmood sealed the victory with a boundary that also completed his 36-ball half-century.
Essex had earlier failed to find the necessary tempo despite 36 from opener Mark Pettini that included the only two sixes of the match.
He and Owais Shah, who contributed 34 off 38 balls, put on 55 for the second wicket and although James Foster (17) and Scott Styris (19) later added 34 in 3.2 overs, the innings generally lacked impetus.
Styris was beginning to move into an imposing mode when he was hampered with a recurrence of his calf injury and required the services of a runner during his innings.
It proved to be a night to forget for Ravi Bopara, who was temporarily released from the England one-day international squad to play in this match. He was dismissed for a single and then saw Key collect three boundaries as his only over of the evening went for 14.