Bell-Drummond again shows his class
Superb death bowling and another Daniel Bell-Drummond masterclass saw Kent Spitfires edge past Hampshire in NatWest T20 Blast South Group on Tuesday.
Bell-Drummond scored 62 from 42 balls – his third half-century of the group stage – to pass 300 T20 runs for the season and help his side reach 91-1 in the 11th over, although the Spitfires did stutter to post 159-6 on a slow track.
However, despite a bright start to the reply from the hosts seeing them look odds-on to secure a healthy win at the Ageas Bowl, needing just 52 from the final seven overs, a superb bowling display restricted them to 154-4.
After Jimmy Neesham and Matt Coles stemmed the flow in the final few overs, conceding two and six from the 18th and 19th overs respectively, Mitch Claydon defended 16 from the final six balls to enhance his growing death bowling reputation.
The win – Kent’s fourth in nine games – enhanced their hopes of a top-four finish in a tight South Group with rock-bottom Sussex to visit Canterbury next on Friday night. James Vince and Rilee Rossouw had got Hampshire off to a quick start and Vince, in particular, took a fancy to Claydon, who he dispatched for the match’s first six over cover in the fourth over.
But Claydon hit back three balls later as Rossouw picked out Alex Blake at mid-on to break the 43-run opening partnership.
Vince departed to the final ball of the powerplay as he was yorked by former team-mate Matt Coles as Hampshire sped to 60 in the opening six overs.
Spin pair Imran Qayyum and James Tredwell put the brakes on Hampshire’s charge with tight middle overs.
And from then on the hosts struggled though Bailey and Alsop neatly added 40 to take their side to 28 runs from victory before the Australian chipped a sweep to short fine leg for 41.
Liam Dawson then picked out Blake on the long-on boundary after Neesham had only gone for two in the 18th over.
Coles then went for six in the penultimate over before Claydon brilliantly defended the last six balls, as he only went for 10.
Earlier, Kent captain Sam Northeast won the toss and decided to bat on a grubby track under thin grey clouds.
Joe Denly and Bell-Drummond set off at an understated rate, which set the tone for the innings.
Denly cracked back-to-back fours off Chris Wood in the second over – two of just 12 boundaries in the Kent total – as they reached 47 by the end of the powerplay. Mason Crane broke the 65-run opening stand when he bowled Denly.
Skipper Northeast was bowled for a quick 10 and Sam Billings picked out Crane on the long on boundary as Shahid Afridi showed his class.
Bell-Drummond continued to tick the score along effortlessly and reached a 33-ball fifty before Afridi snatched two wickets in two balls to finish with 4-26.
Neesham top edged a sweep to short third man and BellDrummond was brilliantly caught for 62 by a sliding Dawson on the cover boundary.
Blake and Darren Stevens struck a quick 39 to lift Kent to 159 with the late runs a key factor in making sure Kent went level on points with fourthplaced Hampshire.
Daniel BellDrummond went past 300 runs in this year’s T20 with his 62 against Hampshire