Surrey 140 for 5 (Mahmood 47*, Stevens 2-16) beat Kent 139 for 4 (Cowdrey 50, Batty 2-14) by five wickets
An unbroken partnership of 79 in 10 overs between Azhar Mahmood and Zafar Ansari swept Surrey to a five-wicket victory against Kent, which all but guaranteed them a Friends Life t20 quarter-final place. Mahmood thumped Matt Coles for a four and six from successive balls in a decisive 19th over that cost 17 runs as Surrey overhauled Kent's 139 for 4 with five balls to spare.
Despite earlier collapsing alarmingly from a seemingly comfortable 47 for no wicket to 61 for 5 inside five overs, Surrey surged to a sixth win in their ninth South Group match thanks to brilliant batting from the veteran Mahmood and the 21-year-old Ansari. Mahmood, the 38-year old former Pakistan allrounder who rejoined Surrey last winter after five seasons at Kent, finished on 47 not out from just 31 balls, with three sixes and three fours in all.
Ansari ended on an unbeaten 30, from 36 balls, and although he hit only two fours he played a sensible support act and was adept at giving Mahmood the strike at crucial stages of the chase.
Jason Roy and Steven Davies had given Surrey an excellent start, with Davies hitting five fours in an 18-ball 27 before he hit Darren Stevens' first ball to deep mid-on at the beginning of the sixth over. Stevens then bowled Vikram Solanki for a second-ball duck and conceded just 16 runs from his four overs as Kent put the squeeze on the Surrey innings.
Fabian Cowdrey's left-arm spin snared Kevin O'Brien, caught at long-off for 2, and Gary Wilson was leg-before for a third-ball duck attempting a reverse sweep at offspinner Adam Riley, who also bowled well in the middle overs.
Gradually, though, Mahmood and Ansari pulled the match around for Surrey, who now go into second place in the South Group table. An equation of 51 runs from the last six overs became 19 off two - and Mahmood made sure of the win with his two huge blows off Coles.
Kent, after winning the toss, lost Daniel Bell-Drummond for 2 in the third over, bowled by Chris Tremlett as he tried to make room to hit over the off-side field, but Cowdrey and Sam Billings added 61 in just over seven overs for the second wicket. Cowdrey, the 20-year-old son of Chris and grandson of Colin, included an eye-catching straight drive off Tremlett and, later, a flip over his right shoulder from down on one knee against the England fast bowler among his six fours in a 46-ball 50, his first half-century at senior level.
Billings made 28 from 25 balls before being caught at long-off trying to hit Gareth Batty into the packed stands, and Cowdrey picked out long-on attempting a similar big hit against Ansari in the 14th over.
That left Stevens and the rest of Kent's middle order with a lot to do to set Surrey a challenging target, but Stevens was starved of the strike in the second half of the innings, facing just 19 balls in all as he reached 29 not out - including a driven six off Mahmood from the last ball of the innings. Alex Blake made 7 before skying to cover off Batty and Ben Harmison, after a scratchy start, at least thumped Mahmood for four and six in an expensive 20th over costing 20 runs as he ended up on 19 not out from 15 balls.
Jade Dernbach, though wicketless, bowled superbly to concede only 22 runs from his four overs - and just four from a brilliant 19th over containing a number of his trademark well-disguised slower balls.