Somerset’s first NatWest T20 Blast fixture of the season ended in defeat against Kent Spitfires at Canterbury as the home side came out on top by eight wickets.
Last season’s quarter-finalists managed to chase down Somerset’s 197 for seven to land victory with 16 balls to spare.
The hosts were given a strong start to their innings by in-form Daniel Bell-Drummond and Joe Denly, who posted 150 for the first wicket in 12.3 overs – a Kent record T20 partnership for any wicket against any county.
In front of a 5,000 crowd at the Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence, Bell-Drummond led the way with an unbeaten 83 off 47 balls. He hit 10 fours and a brace of sixes.
Denly, fresh from a First Class, career-best 206* against Northamptonshire this week, holed out for 75 from 38 balls, then Kent skipper Sam Northeast (27) edged to short third man with the finishing line in sight, but Bell-Drummond saw the Spitfires home.
Batting first after winning the toss Somerset made a mixed start. They lost Johann Myburgh (5) to the seventh ball of the match when he drove the first ball of the second over, from David Griffiths to Darren Stevens at mid-off.
The dismissal bought together Peter Trego and his skipper Jim Allenby, who combined to set the tempo for the visitor’s innings with an excellent second-wicket stand of 134 inside 12 overs.
Allenby took three successive boundaries off Matt Coles while Trego heaved a leg-side six off James Tredwell that pitched into the building site that by next summer will be McCarthy & Stone retirement flats.
Somerset reached 53 for one at the end of the six powerplay overs and by the first ball of the 11th over Allenby and Trego had raised a century stand with an Allenby six over long-on off Stevens.
Allenby raised his 50 from 32 balls, while Trego reached the milestone off only 26 deliveries at which point the West Country County looked set fair for a score in excess of 220.
It was the introduction of Fabian Cowdrey, the loopy left-arm spinner, that changed the course of the night. The 23-year-old proceeded to stem the flow of runs with a spell of three for 18. Cowdrey had Trego (57), Ryan Davies (5) and Jamie Overton (9) all caught in the deep while, at the other end, Coles accounted for Leask (8) to a catch at long-on.
Claydon denied Allenby (91) his ton by pegging back off stump with a full ball via the toe-end of the bat. The Somerset skipper faced 59 balls, hit 10 fours and three sixes.
Shortly after the game was over Somerset Director of Cricket Matt Maynard said: “At the halfway stage I was pleased with the way things were going, but credit to Denly and Bell-Drummond. They played really well and they hit it very clean throughout.
“We missed out on a couple of sharpish chances but fair play to them they hit it around very well and a 150 partnership in 12 overs shows a lot of skill and they just kept coming. Twenty20 is moving fast and the way those boys played was testament to that.”
Talking about the Somerset innings Matt said: “We had a brilliant partnership between Jim Allenby and Tregs. However when that partnership was broken we just didn’t get another partnership going which could have cost us 20 runs, but the way that those two played it probably wouldn’t have made any difference to be honest because it was quality batting.”