PREVIEW: Spitfires v Lightning
Kent vs Lancashire - Vitality Blast Quarter Final
Read our match preview ahead of the Vitality Blast Quarter Final at The Spitfires Ground against Kent Spitfires.
Kent Spitfires vs Lancashire Lightning
The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence, Canterbury
Thursday August 23, 7pm
Lancashire face a repeat of the 2015 Blast quarter-final when the Lightning beat the Spitfires and went on to win their maiden and only T20 title.
Lancashire finished third in the North to Kent’s second in the South this season and head to Canterbury aiming to book their seventh appearance at Finals Day next month (September 15, Edgbaston).
The Red Rose county won three of their last four group matches to qualify for the quarter-finals, finishing with eight wins and five defeats from 14 in all.
Kent, meanwhile, also won eight of 14, but they only lost two and had four No Results.
This clash will be televised on Sky Sports and is the first of the quarter-finals.
The others are Durham v Sussex (Friday), Worcestershire v Gloucestershire (Saturday) and Somerset v Nottinghamshire (Sunday).
Lancashire have been handed a double boost ahead of the clash.
England Test duo Jos Buttler, fresh from his maiden Test century against India earlier this week, and Keaton Jennings have both been made available.
Kent are aiming to win their second Blast title, their first coming in 2007 at Edgbaston when they beat Gloucestershire in the final. Ryan McLaren claimed a hat-trick for them in that match.
Gloucester had beaten Lancashire in the morning semi.
This season’s success has been underpinned by a quartet of batsmen who have all posted between 300 and 400 runs in captain Sam Billings, Joe Denly, Daniel Bell-Drummond and South African Heino Kuhn.
Denly has also taken 19 wickets with his leg-spinners, and the ex-England limited overs man has become a genuine all-rounder in white ball cricket in recent years.
Kent have fielded three overseas players in this season’s Blast; all-rounders Carlos Brathwaite and Marcus Stoinis from the West Indies and Australia and New Zealand fast bowler Adam Milne.
Lancashire clinched a Finals Day berth in 2015 by losing fewer wickets after the scores were tied in a thrilling Saturday afternoon quarter-final at Canterbury.
Requiring just six off the final over to win, Matt Coles had England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler and Steven Croft caught off consecutive balls.
James Faulkner then drove the final ball for two, with three runs needed to win. It cannoned off the stumps at the non-striker’s end out to long-on, where the fielder was unable to prevent the Australian and Arron Lilley running two.
Ashwell Prince and Buttler both hit half-centuries for the Lightning, who claimed victory having lost only six wickets and went on to claim the crown.
Earlier, Stephen Parry took three wickets to bowl the hosts out, while Faulkner, Kyle Jarvis and Lilley all claimed two apiece.
WHAT THEY SAID:
Karl Brown believes Lancashire may look back on their nail-biting defeat to Durham at Emirates Old Trafford earlier this month as a defining moment in their campaign if they go on and win the Blast title.
The Red Rose needed six to win off the last over with four wickets in hand against the Jets, only for part-time left-arm spinner Liam Trevaskis to concede only one run and take three wickets.
It was a game which nobody could really work out how Lancashire lost it, and it left their hopes of qualification in the balance.
But an honest and open dressing room debrief preceded a run of wins from four, including victory over Yorkshire at Headingley two nights later, as they sailed into the last eight.
The opening batsman said: "You can probably imagine the sort of stuff that got said (after that Durham game), and it wasn't nice.
“But I think it might have given us the kick up the backside that we needed.
"Everybody was absolutely gutted after that. We all knew it was a game we should have won and didn't, which hurt us a lot. But we bounced back.
"It was a quick turnaround between that game and winning at Yorkshire, which probably helped. We didn't have any time to dwell on it. We just had to go out there and perform.
"The best thing you can do is learn from games like that. There's no point hiding. We just had to get back on the horse, and we've done it.”
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