Cricket: Keaton ends Kent’s T20 hopes

PUBLISHED: 08:40 24 August 2018 | UPDATED: 08:40 24 August 2018

Sam Billings hits out for Kent (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Sam Billings hits out for Kent (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

©TGS Photo +44 1376 553468

An assured innings of 46 from Keaton Jennings and a captain’s cameo of 30 not out by Dane Vilas proved enough for Lancashire to land a six-wicket win over Kent in a low-scoring Vitality Blast quarter-final in Canterbury on Thursday night.

A near 6,000 crowd was silenced as the red rose county clinched victory with eight balls to spare courtesy of an unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 50 between Vilas and Jordan Clark.

The 2015 champions chased down Spitfires’ inadequate 133-9 to beat the south group runners-up in the last eight for the second time in three years to qualify for next month’s finals day in Birmingham.

Needing to score at a seemingly comfortable rate of 6.7 an over for victory, Lancashire suffered the first-over shock of losing Jos Buttler to a golden duck, stumped by counterpart Sam Billings when down the pitch and pushing at a Joe Denly leg-spinner.

Arron Lilley lost his middle stump when looking to cut Adam Milne and Alex Davies might have gone for six had Imran Qayyum held on to a stinging caught and bowled chance as Lancashire ended their powerplay on 38-2.

Little and large third-wicket partners Davies and Jennings steadied the Lancashire ship with a stand of 44 before Davies holed out naively to long-off against Qayyum as the visitors went 7.3 overs without a boundary.

Jennings, the only batsman to time his drives, was four short of the game’s first 50 when he went to an athletic leg-side stumping by Billings as Qayyum finished his excellent stint with 2-17.

With 23 required off the last 18 balls Vilas (30*) and Clark (29*) held their nerve with and a half-century stand in 5.3 overs including a Clark maximum over mid-wicket – the visitors sole six of the night.

Batting first after winning the toss Kent’s top-order batters struggled for timing on a dry, two-paced pitch as Lancashire skipper Vilas intelligently took pace off the ball by utilising four spin bowlers.

The hosts took 11 runs from the first over by off-spinner Steven Croft, but crucially lost opening bat Daniel Bell-Drummond run out without facing off the second ball of the night.

Denly worked the ball to square leg and set off, but Bell-Drummond hesitated and lost the race, despite a sloppy throw by Jennings.

Heino Kuhn followed in the next over from Toby Lester when, in attempting the run down, the South African nicked through to the keeper Buttler.

Buttler took his second catch when Spitfires’ leading T20 scorer Denly, with only 13 to his name, edged a back-foot force against Clark.

Spitfires limped to the end of their powerplay on 40-3 and should have lost Sean Dickson with the total on 43, only for Buttler to fumble a stumping chance in the first-over of left-arm wrist spin from Zahir Khan.

Kent, who last reached finals day in 2008, eventually raised 50 in the eighth over but, with spin from both ends, boundaries proved hard to come by on a wicket where the ball appeared to be holding up on the surface.

Billings and Dickson added 40 before Dickson, in trying to force the pace, skied one from leg-spinner Matt Parkinson to deep extra cover.

Parkinson, the man-of-the-match, struck again four balls later having Marcus Stoinis caught at slip for a third-ball duck to make it 63-5 at the mid-point of Kent’s innings.

Alex Blake gifted Parkinson the last of his 3-27 return when holing out to deep mid-wicket then, with a run-a-ball 37, top-scorer Billings missed his late cut against Zahir to lose off stump.

James Faulkner snared Milne leg before as the Kiwi worked across the line and then, in the next over, pocketed a comfortable catch after Calum Haggett ballooned a catch to mid-wicket.

Number 10 Qayyum chipped and chased to become their second top-scorer with an unbeaten 21, but it was a total well within Lancashire’s compass.

Billings, the Kent captain, said: “We needed to get a couple of their big players out at the top, but Dane played brilliantly and Keaton as well. Considering the tough week he’s had with England, to come here under pressure and play that well. I thought that was a top knock.

“It’s always tough [to defend such a low total] if you bring the field right in and they get a couple away, then all of a sudden the rate really comes down. It only takes one bloke to get over the line in a match like this, but two of their guys, Dane and Jordan, came in a played brilliantly. Jordan has been class all year, so fair play to Lancashire.”

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