Sussex hopes snuffed out as Joe Denly, Grant Stewart give Kent rare win

Kent 159 for 4 (Denly 58, Billings 33*) beat Sussex 158 for 8 (Stewart 3-38) by six wickets

The Sussex Sharks’ slim chances of qualifying for the Vitality Blast quarter-finals are over, after they were beaten by six wickets by the Kent Spitfires at Canterbury.

Joe Denly hit 58 and Sam Billings was unbeaten on 33 as Kent eventually coasted home with seven balls remaining, to finish on 159 for four.

Grant Stewart earlier took 3 for 38 and George Linde two for 14 as Kent restricted Sussex to 158 for seven. Ali Orr made 36 and Harrison Ward 33, but the Sharks failed to kick on after racing to 76 for 1 at the end of eight overs.

In a derby billed as “The War of the Wealds”, Kent made an early breakthrough when, having won the toss and chose to bowl, Fred Klaassen had Mohammad Rizwan caught at gully for four with the fourth ball of the innings, but Orr and Ward responded with a rapid partnership of 73.

Having endured a brutal debut at home to Gloucestershire on Tuesday night, when his only over went for 26, Jas Singh looked like getting a deserved wicket when Ward skied him to mid on, but Klaassen dropped the catch. and the run rate was threatening to get out of hand until the Spitfires took two wickets in the ninth over. Ward was run out by Ahmad, chasing a non-existent single to point and Qais then caught Tom Alsop for one off George Linde.

Orr fell in Linde’s next over, caught at deep backward square by Jack Leaning for 33, and the same fielder caught Ravi Bopara off Qais Ahmad for seven at cow corner.

A nonplussed Delray Rawlins was given caught behind off Qais for 28 and Rashid Khan had made just three when he chipped Stewart to Tawanda Muyeye at mid off, before George Garton gave Sussex something to defend with 31 from 15 balls, before he edged the final ball of the innings to Klaassen to hand Stewart his third wicket.

Rawlins had Muyeye plumb in front for a duck in the first over of the chase but Henry Crocombe then dropped Cox off Steven Finn when he was on four.

Crocombe took his revenge when he tempted Cox into a miscue that was caught by Orr at short fine leg, dismissing him for 18, but Denly batted Kent into a winning position with another explosive innings that included a six off Will Beer that cleared the Frank Woolley stand – for for only the third time in its history. He moved to 50 with a single off Rawlins and then hit Bopara for another six, but edged the next delivery to Brocombe.

With Denly gone Billings was left to anchor the chase. He lost Alex Blake was lbw to Khan for six and the boundaries dried up, but managed to keep the scoreboard ticking over with George Linde at the other end, chipping away at the target with ones and twos.

Bopara and Khan kept Sussex in it with some tight bowling and Kent still needed 24 from 18 when Finn came on at the Pavilion End, but the former England man was pummelled for 18 runs, including successive fours off the final two balls from Linde.

Linde hit the winning run when he edged Beer and Orr couldn’t pull in a difficult, diving catch. The result means Sussex cannot now qualify for the last eight, while the already eliminated champions Kent recorded their third Blast win of the season.

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