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Matt Walker heaped praise on his Kent play­ers af­ter they se­cured a home quar­ter-fi­nal in the Vi­tal­ity Blast com­pe­ti­tion.

Kent take on Lan­cashire Light­ning at The Spit­fire Ground, St Lawrence, tonight (Thurs­day, 7pm).

Spi­tires knew that vic­tory over Es­sex on Fri­day would all but guar­an­tee a home tie in the next round hav­ing al­ready booked their place in the last eight by beat­ing Som­er­set.

They beat Es­sex by five wick­ets at Chelms­ford af­ter chas­ing down the home side’s to­tal of 201.

Head coach Walker said: “The ob­jec­tive at the start of this pool stage was qual­ify and get a home quar­ter-fi­nal. Credit to the boys, they’ve played bril­liantly for the last few weeks.

“I think we’ve de­served ev­ery­thing we’ve got. We’ve won games in lots of dif­fer­ent ways but a lot of brave and coura­geous cricket at this stage.

“Once you get on a win­ning roll, you start to be­lieve and things start to hap­pen to you.

“The pres­sure was off a bit know­ing we qual­i­fied last night.

“I thought that run chase was mas­ter­ful. We’ve chased well and we’ve de­fended well. You have to do that if you are go­ing to progress in th­ese com­pe­ti­tions.

“To come here to Chelms­ford, which is never easy, and chase down 200 is a great ef­fort. I loved the way the boys played tonight. It was pos­i­tive from ball one.”

Daniel Bell-Drummond top scored in that run chase with 80 and has hit two half-cen­turies in his last three matches of the tour­na­ment.

The 25-year-old has played in the sec­ond team and in the Kent Premier League in re­cent weeks to find some form with the bat. Walker said: “He’s played well all com­pe­ti­tion.

“The con­stant de­vel­op­ment of him in this for­mat is great. From where he was a few years ago to be­ing one of the lead­ing bats­men in the coun­try is great.

“His white ball bat­ting this year has been bril­liant and that’s not al­ways been easy to do when he’s strug­gled with the red ball.

“He’s man­aged to de­tach him­self from that and do well in the white ball for­mat. He held that chase to­gether.”

Spit­fires had won an­other high-scor­ing match the night be­fore their tri­umph in Es­sex. They de­feated Som­er­set by five runs at Can­ter­bury on Thurs­day.

Kent fans can buy their tick­ets for the Vi­tal­ity Blast quar­ter- fi­nal match with Lan­cashire on Thurs­day.

Ad­vanced tick­ets are priced at £20 for adult mem­bers or £25 for non-mem­bers.

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