T20 Blast: Alex Blake’s final-over heroics lead Kent Spitfires to victory against the Hampshire Royals


Alex Blake’s 57 not out and successive sixes in the last over single-handedly gave Kent an unlikely victory at the Ageas Bowl.

The Royals were set to face Sussex Sharks in the ‘El Clasicoast’ derby on Friday but the persistent rain meant the game fell victim to a complete and utter wash out. Meanwhile, the visitors were in action last night when Kent claimed a 44-run victory over Somerset. However, after making the long trip to the south coast last night and getting to their hotel room at 3am, preparations were less than ideal.

Whilst the Royals come into the game understandably rusty of white ball action, they do know their opponents relatively well. Just last week they were squaring off in a tight and tense County Championship fixture at the same venue.

Seven days after being involved in England’s dramatic World Cup triumph, Hampshire captain James Vince flipped the coin and won the toss, opting to bat first in front of a home crowd in the region of 10,000.

Afghanistan all-rounder Mohammed Nabi got proceedings underway, bowling his off-spin to the left and right-hand opening combination of Aneurin Donald and Rilee Rossouw. The two started quietly, rotating the strike and scoring six runs from the first over.

The second over provided contrasting drama. After clubbing a four the previous ball, Roussouw was given a lifeline when Zak Crawley dropped an absolute dolly at extra cover.

At the end of the powerplay, Hampshire were 44-2 but was evidently clear that the Royals top order made a conscience effort to be aggressive and face the Kent attack head on. Epitomized by their skipper, Vince hit the first two balls of his innings for successive boundaries. However, the dismissals of the two openers enabled the Spitfires to reduce the run-rate as Hampshire were forced to rebuild.

Experienced duo of Vince (51) and Sam Northeast (35) combined for a 63 run-partnership to help anchor the Hampshire innings. Nonetheless, the Royals failed to build any other meaningful stands and stutterred to 145-5  after 20 overs.

With only one boundary conceded in the final six overs, the Spitfire bowling armoury speared by Hardus Viljoen (2-20), handed Kent the initiative going into the second innings.

Photo: @KentCricket/Twitter

The south coast outfit quickly responded though. Chris Wood struck early, nicking off captain Daniel Bell-Drummond (two) in the first over. Ollie Robinson fell after an enterprising knock (20) as well as potential danger-man Mohammad Nabi (four). The early wickets meant the Spitfires hardly ‘blazed’ the ball around in the batting powerplay, clawing themselves to 36-3.

Spinners Liam Dawson and Mason Crane bowled in tandem during the middle overs, restricting boundaries and increasing the required run-rate. The turn and spin the pair were getting on a used surface meant that the Kent batsman were unable to release the shackles.

Despite Alex Blake threatening to lead the Spitfire fight-back, he was unable to find a support act as his side lost wickets with regularity. Kyle Abbott was a constant thorn in the opposing batting-lineup, taking vital wickets in each spell. His control of line and length and use of yorkers ensured he finished with the impressive figures 3-22 from his four overs.

Requiring 21 runs off 12 balls for victory, all hopes rested on Alex Blake from a Kent perspective. For all his swashbuckling efforts not many connected with the bat. That was until three balls remaining where Kent required 12 runs. Blake proceeded to hit two consecutive sixes down the ground on his way to 57* and gave the Spitfires an unlikely victory. A truly magnificent knock from a player who single-handedly dragged his team to victory.

Team Line-ups:

Hampshire Royals: Rilee Rossouw, Aneurin Donald, James Vince (c), Sam Northeast, James Fuller, Liam Dawson, Chris Morris, Lewis McManus (Wk), Chris Wood, Kyle Abbott, Mason Crane.

Kent Spitfires: Daniel Bell-Drummond (c), Zak Crawley, Ollie Robinson (Wk), Mohammad Nabi, Alex Blake, Sean Dickson, Jordan Cox, Adam Milne, Hardus Viljoen, Imran Qayyum, Fredrick Klaassen.


About Author

Football, Boxing and Cricket correspondent from Hampshire, covering southern sport. Editor and Head of Boxing at Prost International. Accreditated EFL & EPL journalist.

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