Kent 282 for 7 (Jones 86, Kemp 63, Mahmood 62, Collins 4-46) beat Surrey 192 (Batty 63, McLaren 5-46, Arafat 4 for 35) by 90 runs
Kent’s middle-order went from mild-mannered to supermen at The Oval, where a late assault from Geraint Jones and Azhar Mahmood turned a shaky start into a match-winning 282 against Surrey. The visitors had stumbled to 52 for 4 before Jones and Justin Kemp calmly rebuilt the innings, setting the stage for the late heroics when Kent blitzed 84 from their final six overs.
Surrey made a similarly wobbly opening as Yasir Arafat picked up early wickets but there was no recovery from their 43 for 4, as the visiting attack maintained their pressure where the hosts had eased back earlier in the day. Ryan McLaren was largely responsible for keeping a tight rein on Surrey and he finished with a career-best 5 for 46, picking up several lower-order wickets as Kent secured a 90-run victory.
Fittingly, Jones and Mahmood both contributed to the success in the field after their batting rescue, removing two of Surrey’s most dangerous players cheaply. Mahmood jagged one back to bowl Mark Ramprakash for 5 and Jones, sometimes maligned for his glovework, snared a terrific one-handed catch in front of first slip to send Ali Brown back for 14.
Brown was Arafat’s third victim; he had got some healthy seam movement in the initial overs. He nipped one away to entice a thin edge from Scott Newman for 4 and then removed his opening partner and Sunday’s century-maker James Benning, who tried to swivel and pull but was trapped in front when he misjudged the bounce.
The crowd of more than 4000 mostly Surrey supporters slowly lost their voices and started to filter out as it became clear their long weekend would not end with victory celebrations, although there were some cheers for Jonathan Batty as he enjoyed some batting practice and posted 63. After he holed out to McLaren, Arafat had no trouble completing the task and he finished with 4 for 35.
It could have all been so different after Pedro Collins and Matthew Nicholson picked up two wickets each to rattle the Kent top order after Robert Key chose to bat. But Kemp and Jones were then allowed to work into some form and combined for a 92-run stand, Kemp making the most of the lightning outfield with crisp front-foot drives. When he was caught at long-on for 63, the rot had been stopped, leaving Jones and Mahmood with some leeway to take risks. Both men appeared to be in Twenty20 mode toward the end and their eyes lit up at half-volleys as Jade Dernbach and Neil Saker struggled to threaten.
The Kent pair embarrassed the legspinner Chris Schofield by picking 21 off the 46th over, which included Jones’ best shot, a perfectly straight six that cleared the sightscreen and landed in the second tier. The same over he launched another six over extra-cover and both sixes were classic examples of the confident footwork used by Jones, whose 88-ball 86 was his highest one-day score and earned him the Man-of-the-Match award.
Mahmood was even more brutal. He brought up his half-century from 38 deliveries with a six slashed over deep point off Nicholson and finally holed out to Collins for 62 to long-off, one ball after clearing the fence in the same spot. Collins finished with 4 for 46 after picking up the last two wickets. He had also collected the first two, but the inability of his colleagues to back him up left Surrey in a hole from which there was no escape.