b>Middlesex 184 for 6 (Cracknell 50, Simpson 46, Hollman 46) whip Kent 182 for 7 (Bell-Drummond 89) by two runs
Tom Helm used to be the bowling hero as Middlesex dented Kent’s Vitality Blast qualification hopes by touchdown a tense two-run win over the former South Group leaders in Canterbury.
Set to chase 185 at an asking rate of 9.25 an over, Spitfires slumped to their second successive home defeat after failing to score the nine runs needed for victory off Helm’s nerve-tingling final over.
Jordan Cox ended a near-heroic run chase unbeaten on 39, while skipper Daniel Bell-Drummond went for a season’s best 89 in trying to slog Helm’s first delivery of the last over
The hosts had made a dismal start in losing England star Zak Crawley to only the fourth ball. Aiming a lofted straight drive against Helm, Crawley’s backside hand took over and tugged a simple catch to mid-on.
Joe Denly soon followed, squared up by a Tim Murtagh cutter, the right-hander used to be caught at cover off a leading edge as Spitfires stumbled to 45 for 2 in the Powerplay.
Heino Kuhn followed, down the pitch to Miguel Cummins, he spliced an attempted back-foot force low to Stevie Eskinazi at cover.
Alex Blake gloved an attempted leg-side pull to the keeper against Steven Finn then Jack Leaning’s disappointing tournament continued when he picked out deep square leg to gift Murtagh a second scalp.
Kent’s leading T20 run-scorer Bell-Drummond posted his third 50 of the qualifiers from 37 balls, reaching the milestone with a six over cover against Luke Hollman.
With 51 required off the final four overs, Bell-Drummond moved into overdrive with a flailed six over long off against Nathan Sowter, a lofted paddle to third man against Helm, who used to be dispatched over the ropes at mid-wicket for another maximum.
Needing 25 off 12 balls, Bell-Drummond and Cox nurdled fours to third man against Cummins who used to be then cracked for a massive six over long on by Cox.
Grant Stewart used to be run out making an attempt two off the penultimate ball of the game from Helm and, with Cox off strike, Matt Milnes heaved at the final ball only to scramble a unmarried and spark Middlesex victory celebrations.
Bowling first after winning the toss, Kent leaked late runs to a fifth-wicket partnership worth 70 in seven overs between John Simpson and Luke Hollman.
Spitfires had made a miserly start with the ball in restricting the visitors to four runs from their opening two overs, pressure that paid dividends when Max Holden, in having a look to make room against Fred Klassen’s first ball of the match, skied his miscued drive to mid-off.
Milnes undid his side’s good early work by conceding two boundaries and the first six of the game to Joe Cracknell in a scrappy fourth over that cost 22 runs.
Denly’s second over went for 18 as Cracknell continued to tee-off and take his side to 65 for 1 after the Powerplay.
Playing only his third T20 innings, Cracknell raced to a maiden short-form 50 from 21 balls with nine fours and a six, but his luck ran out next ball when he departed lbw playing across a full one from Stewart.
Imran Qayyum struck in his first over of left-arm spin, drawing Martin Andersson down the pitch with a flighted delivery that whip the outdoor edge to have the right-hander stumped.
Kent used three spinners in a tender to stem the run-rate, but Simpson upped the tempo with a straight six and swept four against Denly as the 100 came up after 11 overs.
Eskinazi’s stable 22-ball stay for 26 ended in comical fashion and a run out. After being sent back wanting a unmarried to backward point, the visiting skipper slid over and used to be on his behind watching as Cox gathered the throw to beat off the bails.
Simpson, dropped off a sharp chance at wide mid-off when on 35, used to be run out in the last over for 46, while Hollman gave it the long deal with to be run out off the last ball, for a quickfire 46 off 26 balls.
Qayyum, the pick of Kent’s attack, completed four tidy overs to finish with for one for 21.