Cap­tain’s cen­tury steers side to vic­tory

Gloucestershire Echo - - CRICKET -

AN un­beaten cen­tury by cap­tain Michael Klinger in­spired Glouces­ter­shire to a five-run Vi­tal­ity Blast win over Kent in Canterbury.

The 35-year-old plun­dered nine fours and four sixes in his 102 not out that helped the vis­i­tors – who have not lost a T20 game against Kent since July 2016 – post an im­pres­sive 180 for three un­der the lights at The Spit­fire Ground, St Lawrence.

Kent fielded first af­ter win­ning the toss and sprang an im­me­di­ate sur­prise by open­ing the bowl­ing with off-spin­ner, Alex Blake. The ploy worked won­ders as Glouces­ter­shire garnered only two off the over. Fred Klaassen’s first ball of the night was hooked over the ropes at long leg by Klinger, then Miles Ham­mond opened his boundary ac­count with a pull to square leg as the Ken­tish left-armer strug­gled.

With the pow­er­play com­plete, Blake re­turned for a se­cond re­spectable over then, with 70 on the board, left-arm spin­ner Im­ran Qayyum had Ham­mond caught on the deep cover ropes.

Klinger moved to his 34th short-form 50 from 35 balls with six fours and a six be­fore Blake had James Bracey held at deep mid-wicket to com­plete an ex­cel­lent stint of 4-0-17-1 with­out con­ced­ing a boundary.

Qayyum ac­counted for Ian Cock­bain, run out when back­ing up to Klinger’s drive as the bowler col­lected the ball, span around and whipped off the bails. Qayyum fin­ished with one for 24. Jack Taylor should have de­parted for eight only for Zak Craw­ley to down a chance off Daniel Bell-drum­mond, whose next de­liv­ery was heaved for six by Klinger as 23 came off the over. Taylor was handed an­other life on 17 when Blake downed a low chance, be­fore Klinger drove the fi­nal de­liv­ery of the in­nings for a ninth four and a 65-ball cen­tury with four sixes. Kent pace­man Mitchell Clay­don, fin­ished with nought for 45.

In pur­suit of 181 at an ask­ing rate of 9.05 an over. Within 19 balls, Bel­lDrum­mond drove on the up to cover against An­drew Tye then Chris Lid­dle had Zak Craw­ley caught off a skier at mid-wicket to make it 21 for two. Faf du Plessis, the South Africa cap­tain mak­ing his Kent de­but, was dropped on 18 as the Spit­fires mus­tered 51 at the end of the pow­er­play. Du Plessis and third-wicket part­ner Sam Billings found it dif­fi­cult to hit bound­aries un­til Billings broke the shack­les by heav­ing six over the lime tree against Graeme van Bu­uren.

At the half-way stage Kent had matched Glouces­ter­shire’s 81 af­ter 10 overs, al­beit for the loss of one more wicket. Du Plessis was dropped again on 42 when Tye downed a low chance as Kent posted their 100 in the 12th over with the ask­ing rate at 9.75 an over.

Du Plessis reached a 35-ball 50 with his sev­enth four and Billings scored his first 50 of the com­pe­ti­tion from 37 balls, but five runs later he holed out in the deep off Ryan Hig­gins to bring the 122-run stand to an end.

Kent re­quired 41 off the last five overs but Hig­gins and Tye sent down two tight overs to al­ter the equa­tion to 32 from 18 balls when Heino Kuhn ran him­self out. Blake hit 19 off eight balls be­fore hol­ing out to long off against Ryan Hig­gins and, when Du Plessis fol­lowed next ball for 60, Kent’s vic­tory hopes ended.

Ryan Hig­gins took three wick­ets against Kent

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