KENT WIN BY 46 RUNS

Kent 200 a/o

Middlesex 154 a/o

Part-time leg-spinner Joe Denly was the unlikely bowling hero as Kent opened their Royal London One-Day Cup win account with a 46-run victory over south group rivals Middlesex in Canterbury.

Having failed to defend 330-plus scores in their previous two games, Spitfires managed to protect a modest all out total of 200 – with Denly bagging Kent-best figures of three for 20 – to secure his side’s first win in four starts.

Needing to score at a shade over four an over to record their second RLODC win of the south group campaign, Middlesex lost wickets at regular intervals in falling woefully short.

The visitors lost Dawid Malan in the third over when the left-hander sparred outside off against Wayne Parnell to nick to second slip.Four balls later, South Africa left-armer Parnell, in his last home game of his current spell as Kent’s overseas all-rounder, ran one back up the Canterbury slope to trap Nick Gubbins lbw for a single.

Adam Voges and Nick Compton added 47 before Kent struck through Darren Stevens, who belied his 41 years by taking a stunning return catch from a Voges’ drive to make it 49 for three.

Eleven runs later and Spitfires were celebrating again when a direct hit from 12th man Will Gidman, substituting for the injured Matt Coles, ran out John Simpson after Nick Compton had called for a sharp single to the cover fielder.

Coles returned after treatment for a sore shin to pocket a comfortable catch off the bowling of James Tredwell that ended Compton’s 85-ball stay for a painstaking 37 and left Tredwell with one for 29 from his 10 overs.

Keeping pace off the ball, Kent’s occasional leg-twirler Denly struck to have Ryan Higgins caught behind, then, in his next over, he trapped Toby Roland-Jones lbw when working across the line

Middlesex, with only three wickets remaining, still required 78 going into their final 10 overs when Denly, leaping full-length to his left caught a rasping James Franklin drive one-handed to send the visiting skipper packing for 33.

Mitch Claydon replaced Denly to have James Fuller caught off a skier leaving Parnell to finish it with another reflex return caught and bowled catch that accounted for Ravi Patel and gave Parnell, the man-of-the-match, deserved figures of three for 33.

Kent’s day started badly when they again lost the toss in overcast conditions and were duly invited to bat with the floodlights already on. Their gloom deepened after only two deliveries when Daniel Bell-Drummond, fresh from scoring back-to-back hundreds in losing causes, feathered a defensive push against Roland-Jones into the gloves of Simpson to depart without scoring.

Home skipper Sam Northeast and second-wicket partner Denly, batting against his former county, steadied the Spitfires with a stand of 52 that ended in the 13th over when Denly (19) pulled a short one to mid-wicket where Voges held a stinging overhead chance.

Northeast, who enjoyed a life when on 24 after Voges downed a regulation slip chance, posted his 13th List A half-century from 73 balls and with six fours. He and Sean Dickson added 44 before the latter miscued his attempted pull against Franklin to mid-on to go for 29.

Northeast followed five balls after his 50, sweeping against Ravi Patel, the Kent skipper skied to the keeper to go for 55 having spent almost two hours at the crease. While Alex Blake lasted only five minutes, tamely hanging his bat out to dry against Franklin, the left-hander went for two after edging a third catch to Simpson behind the timbers.

The procession of Kent batsmen to the pavilion continued when Stevens (18) miscued to extra cover to gift Patel a second scalp, bringing together Adam Rouse and Parnell (32) for a face-saving seventh-wicket stand worth 34.

With little to lose Parnell, playing his 99th List A innings, went for his strokes only to smear Malan’s first ball of the day, a low full-toss, straight into the hands of Tom Helm at deep mid-wicket

Matt Coles edged an attempted drive against Helm to slip where Voges took off to hold a stunning overhead catch diving to his left, then, to the first ball of the third and final powerplay, Adam Rouse (9) nicked an attempted cut to his Middlesex counterpart Simpson to give Helm a second wicket.

With four of their 50 overs still to be bowled, Kent’s last man Claydon, who had just hooked the only six of his side’s innings, was yorked by Roland-Jones, the pick of the Middlesex attack with three for 35 from his 10 overs.