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Kent win by six wickets

Adam Milne claimed five for 11 as Kent Spitfires beat Somerset by six wickets at the Cooper Associates County Ground in the NatWest T20 Blast.

Returning his best figures for Kent, the 25-year-old New Zealand paceman registered 15 dot balls in 3.5 overs as the home side were dismissed for 149 in 18.5 overs.

Sam Billings then posted an unbeaten 56 from 36 balls as the visitors reached their target with nine deliveries to spare, in the process inflicting Somerset’s first home defeat in the competition.

Put into bat, Somerset made a blistering start in front of a sell-out crowd. Steve Davies and Lewis Gregory traded almost exclusively in boundaries and matched one another blow for blow in an opening stand of 35. However, the momentum shifted dramatically as Somerset then lost three wickets in a power-play that ebbed and flowed.

Davies was brilliantly caught by an airborne Jimmy Neesham at mid-wicket off the bowling of Milne and Gregory top-edged a quicker delivery from Mitchell Claydon and was snaffled by wicketkeeper Sam Billings. When Jim Allenby edged Claydon behind in the fifth over, the home side were 40 for three and firmly on the back foot.

Required to rebuild the innings, Johann Myburgh and James Hildreth had little option but to proceed with a degree of caution. More of an accumulator than a dasher, Hildreth adopted a supporting role, while the naturally pugnacious Myburgh opted to hit out, a high-risk strategy that resulted in him chipping a delivery from Imran Qayyum to cover point for 25.

Hildreth has proved himself a saviour on more than one occasion for Somerset in the short format this summer, helping his team chase down victory targets in games against Middlesex and Surrey. Charged with the task of stabilising the innings, he successfully rotated the strike with Dean Elgar in a revitalising partnership that was characterised by deft placement and feverish running.

Having raised 36 from 30 balls and dominated a stand of 43 for the fifth wicket, Hildreth was looking to accelerate when, in the act of attempting to sweep Milne, he was adjudged lbw despite appearing to glove the ball with the score on 117 in the 15th over. Roelof van der Merwe was then bowled by a straight ball from Callum Haggett as Somerset’s prospects of posting a challenging total receded.

Called upon to play expansively, Elgar perished in pursuit of a six, held by Alex Blake on the long-on boundary off the bowling of Neesham as Kent turned the screw further. Tim Groenewald hoisted the final ball of the 18th over to deep mid-wicket and Craig Overton was bowled by Milne for 12, at which point the home side were 147 for nine. His confidence running high, Milne then bowled Paul van Meekeren as the innings was terminated with seven balls unused.

Joe Denly and Daniel Bell-Drummond both cleared the boundary rope in an opening stand of 40 that put Kent in a good position.

Any anxiety induced by the dismissals of Bell-Drummond and Sam Northeast, who succumbed in quick succession to Gregory and van Meekeren respectively, was dispelled by the arrival of England international Billings, who scored at better than a run a ball from the outset.

However, Somerset stuck to their task and the introduction of Groenewald saw Denly hole out to deep mid-wicket for 33, leaving the visitors needing a further 77 from 60 balls with seven wickets in hand.

Veteran Darren Stevens offered a return catch to van der Merwe to give Somerset renewed hope, but Billings helped keep the required rate in check. He brought up his 50 clearing the rope at Groenewald’s expense as Kent reached the victory target.

Straight after the game Matt Maynard said: “I thought that we were building quite nicely when we batted with the partnership between James and Dean Elgar and it’s a shame because they could have won the game for us. We then lost wickets quite quickly and we were probably 20 runs short of what we would have liked.

“We lost three quick wickets at the end of the power play and then we put ourselves into the position where we could have scored 170 which we thought was par for the wicket.

“However then we lost James Hildreth lbw, who had started to accelerate nicely. He was looking to get down and sweep the ball and he gloved it rather than it hit the pads- but these things happen. In a low scoring match you need those decisions to go your way.”

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