Surrey have beaten the Kent Spitfires by five wickets after a nerve-shredding run chase in the Vitality Blast at Canterbury that went all the way to the final ball
Laurie Evans’ 52 set Surrey on their way, but a cluster of wickets kept the hosts in contention until Jamie Smith and Sean Abbott took charge.
Michael Hogan was left to defend nine off the final over: Surrey tied the scores with one ball remaining and Jack Leaning just failed to cling on to an exocet from Smith off the last delivery.
Earlier Will Jacks took three for 28 as the Spitfires were limited to 173 for 5, although having been 122 for five after 16 overs, Kent at least made things interesting. Leaning was unbeaten on 34 and Sam Billings was Kent’s next highest scorer with 30.
Kent chose to bat in front of a crowd of 4,500, believed to be a record for a Sunday afternoon at the Spitfire Ground, but they lost Tawanda Muyeye for nine at the end of the first over when he was bowled by Jacks.
Joe Denly then blasted 27 from 14 balls, but when Jacks pinged his off stump it drastically slowed the run rate.
Daniel Bell-Drummond was out for 25 when he drove Jacks straight to Abbott at deep mid-on and 6.2 overs went by without a boundary until Jordan Cox pulled Chris Jordan for four in the 11th.
Billings then reverse swept Sunil Narine for six in the 13th but he was bowled leg stump off the fifth ball of the over.
The score would have been significantly lower had Surrey not shelled four chances. Cox was the first to be reprieved when he was dropped by Jamie Overton on 20, although he’d added just three when Overton atoned, snaring him on the boundary after he’d reverse-wept Narine.
Leaning was then dropped by Gus Atkinson on seven and George Linde was on 15 when Jacks parried a catchable slog off Jordan over the rope for six. Ben Foakes couldn’t cover enough ground to snare Leaning after a miscued scoop off the same bowler and the batter cashed in when he hit Sam Curran for 16 off the 20th, including an overthrow after a rash shy at the stumps by the bowler from the final delivery.
It was a total that at least allowed the home fans some hope and although Jacks and Evans charged to 62 for nought at the end of the powerplay, there was a mini-wobble when Jacks was out for 30, skying Denly to Hogan and Grant Stewart then removed Sam Curran, who was caught by a diving Joey Evison at mid-off for 10.
When Linde struck twice in 13th to remove Foakes and Evans, both caught on the boundary by Kane Richardson and Muyeye respectively, the game was back in the balance and in the next over Tom Curran swiped Stewart to Richardson, leaving Surrey on 106 for five.
At which point Abbott and Smith intervened. With 48 needed from the last four Kent were arguably favourites, but Richardson’s 17th over went for 16, Stewart’s 18th went for 14 before the penultimate, from Richardson, shipped seven.
Needing nine to win off the last over, the first four deliveries yielded four and Smith swept four from the penultimate ball to tie the scores.
The field came in for the final delivery and Leaning flung himself at a violent cut from Smith, but he couldn’t cling on for what would have been a spectacular one-handed catch and Surrey had scraped home.