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|Mujib Ur Rahman||4.0||0||34||0||8.50|
Ryan Higgins held his nerve to deny Kent an inspirational win in their last game. Kent had a good Royal One Day Cup until they met Hampshire in the final. Hampshire won the match by 61 runs and consequently the trophy. The two teams are set to face each other once again in Vitality T20 Blast on 13 July at St Lawrence Cricket Ground, Canterbury. Hampshire have already lost one match and will be meeting Sussex prior to this match. Kent are sitting right behind Sussex and a win for them will probably take them to the spot, if other results go their way, thereby sinking Hampshire to the bottom of the table.
Despite Sam Northeast moving from Kent to Hampshire, the Spitfires still have one of the most interesting batting lineups in the competition. Kent have done particularly well in his absence in this season. Joe Denly and Heino Kuhn were fluent in the Royal London ODI Cup and their colossal batting effort dragged them to the final of fifty over the competition. Their batting lineup is bolstered by the return of Sam Billings who was unavailable during the fifty over tournament due to his IPL commitment.
While their batting looks exciting, they'd have to be wary about their bowlers leaking runs. In the absence of James Tredwell due to a shoulder injury, their spin bowling becomes heavily dependent on young Imran Qayyum and it would be interesting to see how he responds to it. Their death bowling woes were clearly visible in their last game against Gloucestershire. Despite having them on the mat with 82 for 4 at half-time, they allowed them to score over a hundred in the last ten overs. While everyone was able to pick up wickets, no one except Brathwaite and Claydon was able to restrict the flow of runs. Spin was used sparsely with Imaran Qayyum bowling only one over.
Chasing a total of 185 on a smallish ground should not have been too difficult, but Denly's wicket early in the innings made it so. Joe Denly has scored five hundred this season across all formats and his performance was always going to be crucial. Their another in-form batsman, Heino Kuhn, played a steady knock of 44 off 34 deliveries but lacked substance to go all the way. Sam Billings is known as one of the most talented batsmen in English circuit and he did start in stylish fashion. However, after scoring 24 off just 11 which included three sixes, he lost steam and got out. Despite losing Joe Denly and Bell-Drummond early, it was a commendable effort from the Spitfires to take the match to the last delivery. They lacked a decisive innings which was the primary cause of their loss against Gloucestershire.
Joe Denly, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Heino Kuhn, Sam Billings, Alex Blake, Sean Dickson, Carlos Brathwaite, Calum Haggett, Harry Podmore, Imran Qayyum, Mitchell Claydon.
Hampshire is one of the most fancied sides to win the competition, especially after they won the fifty-over cup. They've been featured in seven final-day appearances which is most by any county. Although Vitality T20 Blast is a long competition and a loss should really worry Hampshire too much, the manner of loss in their first match might be a cause of concern.
The primary let down against Glamorgan was their batting as no one was able to bat responsibly and stay at the wicket to chase down a modest total. Instead, their batsmen tried to overpower the total by following a slam-bang approach and failed miserably. None of Colin Munro, Rilee Rossouw, James Vince, and Sam Northeast could get to even double figures mark leaving them tottering at 32 for 7. Had it not been Gareth Berg and Kyle Abbot, they'd have struggled to reach even the half-century mark. Berg and Abbot scored 26 and 29 respectively.
Abbot's day with the bat was good, but not so with the ball. He was the most expensive bowler for them, conceding 54 runs off his four. Wood and Berg were impressive with the new ball while Mujeeb Ur Rahman bowled well in the middle overs. It was not the defeat that shocked their fans across the country, but its nature. Hampshire were the winners of the fifty over competition and have been one of the strongest teams in the shortest version of the game. It was a shock defeat for them which will, in all probability, act as a wake-up call for them. Hampshire will be better prepared when they play two games on consecutive days beginning today.
Colin Munro, J Vince, Sam Northeast, RR Rossouw, Tom Alsop, LA Dawson, Lewis McManus, Gareth Berg, CP Wood, RA Stevenson, Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
Kent have had a mixed season so far with two wins and a close loss in three matches. They'd like to take revenge from Hampshire for the final's defeat of One Day Cup. Hampshire batsmen struggled to find their feet in their previous match and with Kent playing at home, it is expected to be another tough game for them. With a top-class batting lineup playing at home, expect Kent to register a win in this upcoming encounter.
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