Kent 297 for 7 (Compton 81, Denly 61, Robinson 59, Waite 3-53, Revis 3-59) beat Yorkshire 282 for 6 (Duke 85, Bean 61, Denly 3-37) by three wickets
Kent went into the final over needing 11 to keep their hopes of qualifying alive and Stewart declined a single off Matthew Revis’s penultimate ball to leave everything riding on the final delivery. The all-rounder then pulled Revis through backward square leg to a huge cheer from the Canterbury crowd, leaving Kent on 297 for seven.
Ben Compton hit 81 and Denly 61 but after reaching 189 for two, miserly Yorkshire bowling saw the run rate spiral above 12 an over until Stewart’s drastic late intervention.
Denly said: “They’re moments you dream of as a cricketer, hitting a six off the last ball to win a game for your team. Credit to Grant, he works very hard at his batting and especially his power game and moments like that make it all worthwhile. If there was one player I had to pick to hit a six off the last ball, I’d have Grant Stewart every day. He’s built for it, he’s pure muscle, I don’t think there’s an ounce of fat on him.”
A crowd of over 2000 at the Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence was boosted by around 80 Afghan refugees and Kent even arranged for an interpreter to broadcast announcements in Pashto.
The hosts needed to win to stand any chance of reaching the knock-out stages and with clouds hovering over Canterbury for the first time in what seemed like weeks, they chose to field, but struggled to make any impact early on.
An elegant glance for two from Gilchrist took Fraine to 50, but the breakthrough finally came in the 22nd over when he was lbw to Hamid Qadri.
It was an isolated success for Kent. Duke was on 64 when he was put down by Nathan Gilchrist off his own bowling and he put on 109 for the second wicket with Bean.
However, just as it began to rain, Denly tilted the equation with two wickets in three deliveries. Bean drove him to Qadri and was caught. Then, with a hundred there for the taking, Duke skied Denly to Alex Blake. When the umpires brought the players off it was the first time there’d been a rain delay at Canterbury this year, but play resumed after an hour with the game reduced to 45 overs per side.
Hill made only five before he was lbw to Denly and Jonathan Tattershall holed out to Stewart in the next over and was caught on the boundary by Nathan Gilchrist.
The rain then returned, the umpires conferred and one of them signalled for the players to go back off, yet after a cry of “get on with it!” from the crowd and with the rain easing to a drizzle they changed their minds and stayed on. Matthew Revis duly drove Navdeep Saini to Denly and was caught for three, before Matthew Waite and Dom Bess restored some momentum with 31 and 13 not out respectively.
Kent’s chase got off to the worst possible start when Joey Evison was out to the first ball of the innings, caught behind off Waite, but Robinson responded by racing past 50 with a six off Tom Loten that cleared the flats on the Old Dover Road side of the ground. Although he fell for 59 to the same bowler in his next over, caught by Revis at square leg, Compton and Denly put on 98 for the next wicket, their stand only ending when Denly miscued trying to pull Revis and was caught by Waite.
Revis then had Alex Blake caught by Bess for three and Kent went 29 balls without a boundary as the pressure mounted. Compton was finally bowled by Waite attempting to reverse sweep and with Waite’s 37th over going for just four, the hosts needed 36 from 18 and then 23 from 12. Harry Finch was out for 42, pulling Bess to Waite but Stewart smashed Waite back over his head for six, leaving Kent needing 11 from the final over.
Harry Podmore sliced Revis’ first ball for four but hit the next down George Hill’s throat. Qadri took a single from the third, the fourth was a dot and Stewart declined a single off the fifth before creaming Revis for six to an eruption of joy from the home fans.
Yorkshire’s assistant coach Ali Maiden, who is leading Yorkshire in this tournament, said: “I just hope Rev doesn’t take that too personally and he can come back from the experience positively. The plan the lads had set was what he actually executed. The guy connects and it goes for six. It’s just one of those things.”