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Cricket: Kent bid farewell to Nabi

PUBLISHED: 10:23 15 August 2019 | UPDATED: 10:23 15 August 2019

Afghanistan's Mohammad Nabi bats during the ICC Cricket World Cup group stage match at the Hampshire Bowl, Southampton.

Afghanistan's Mohammad Nabi bats during the ICC Cricket World Cup group stage match at the Hampshire Bowl, Southampton.

PA Wire/PA Images

Kent supporters will bid farewell to star Afghanistan all-rounder Mohammad Nabi tomorrow (Friday, 7pm) when the 34-year-old makes the 10th and final Vitality Blast appearance of a short, yet glittering stint with the Spitfires.

In his nine games to date, the off-spinner from Logar has scored 147 runs at a strike rate of 153.12, while also bagging eight wickets with his wily spin at an economy rate of 7.22.

With the willow, Nabi has scored crucial runs including a dramatic, unbeaten 43 off 12 balls that swept Spitfires to victory over Surrey at The Kia Oval on July 30.

His 34 from 20 balls on debut against Somerset on July 20 also helped a wobbling Kent middle-order to a total they were able to defend.

Nabi will line up for his 225th domestic Twenty20 appearance against the Sussex Sharks in Canterbury, yet Paul Downton, Kent's director of cricket, is hoping it won't be the Afghan's last performance in a Spitfires shirt.

"We're positive about getting to the quarter-finals and although he goes back after Friday's game, I'm hopeful that, if we do make it to Finals Day, Mohammad will be available to return for that," said Downton.

"He's a very skilful cricketer. Maybe we haven't seen as much of him with the bat than we'd have liked ideally, but he won us that game at The Oval and his runs in his first game got us going and gave us a big boost just when we needed it.

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"His bowling has been exceptional. As an off-spinner in T20 you're meant to be cannon-fodder these days, but he's such a clever bowler that he's been really difficult for batsmen to get after. Added to which he's been brilliant in the dressing rooms."

On Kent's tournament thus far, Downton added: "We won our first five games and felt pretty good, only to realise that we weren't even halfway through the tournament, but to keep that kind of momentum going is sometimes extremely difficult.

"And, in T20, any one player can take a game away from you. For instance, Tom Banton's innings for Somerset against us, was exceptional and you just had to take your hat off to him.

"The great start gave us a buffer if you like and some protection against having a dip. Now it's time to come out fighting again. Now we know we've got to win games and that's our plan."

Downton added: "We've invested in our bowling by bringing in Nabi, Adam Milne and Hardus Viljoen for the competition, but the fact is that much of our batting comes through young Kent guys.

"When you think that we've been missing Joe Denly and Sam Billings for much of the tournament, then the likes of Daniel Bell-Drummond, Jordan Cox, Zak Crawley and Ollie Robinson have stood up extremely well, while Alex Blake has done his normal thing by winning a couple of games for us.

"There's nothing like playing in front of 25,000 at Lord's which young Jordan did recently and Robbo and Zak have been doing there stuff all summer. So, there are lots of positives for the future with young Kent players coming through the ranks."

By the weekend, Kent will hope to have news on Kiwi paceman, Milne, who underwent a scan on his injured ankle earlier in the week.

Billings is available again having completed his rehabilitation from shoulder surgery, while left-arm spinner Imran Qayyum is back to full fitness after dislocating a finger.

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