Kent 241 for 5 beat Hampshire 221 by 20 runs
Matt Coles took four wickets in nine balls to help Kent to an 18-run Clydesdale Bank 40 win over Hampshire at the Rose Bowl. But the real Kent hero was their experienced South African batsman Martin van Jaarsveld who made an unbeaten 104 after Kent chose to bat first.
Van Jaarsveld shared in two critical stands to enable Kent to set a difficult target of six an over. The veteran South African shared in a stand of 79 with Geraint Jones for the fourth wicket and 64 for the fifth with Darren Stevens. He reached his century in the final over of the innings as Kent closed at 241 for 5, leaving Hampshire with plenty to do.
Van Jaarsveld finished with 104 not out off 83 balls and his intelligently-paced innings included eight fours and two sixes. Jones and Stevens each made 38 and there was an important 22 from Joe Denly at the top of the innings as Hampshire struggled to keep the scoring in check.
Dominic Cork's side needed to win to keep the pressure on group rivals Warwickshire and Nottinghamshire and they made a superb start when it was their turn to bat. Australian opener Phil Hughes, signed on a short-term contract until the end of the season, helped the prolific Jimmy Adams put on 85 in only 16 overs.
But then legspinner Malinga Bandara found a way through Hughes' defence and Hampshire were never quite the same force. Their momentum stalled at 115 when Adams was third out, another victim of Bandara having made 74 from only 71 balls. Much depended on Michael Carberry to stay in control but Sean Ervine's adventurous cameo was brought to an end with the score at 180, with 60 required off 7.3 overs.
Then Coles came on to make a decisive contribution, dismissing Liam Dawson and Chris Woods in two balls and in the following over sent back Cork and Michael Bates. This seemed to be the end for Hampshire but Carberry and last man Danny Briggs had other thoughts.
Carberry and Briggs needed 36 off the final three overs and there were some heart-stopping moments for Kent supporters as the pair inched their way towards their unlikely target. But after adding 26 and taking Hampshire within sight of victory, Carberry went down the wicket to Dewald Nel and was stumped by the grateful Jones.
Carberry hit seven fours and a six in his rapid 57 and after his demise there were only seven balls left. Young Coles finished with creditable figures of 4 for 45 as Kent closed in on their victory.