Virat, Munaf spit fire to take India past Kent

Joe Denlys 68-ball ton goes in vain

Virat, Munaf spit fire to take India past Kent

India’s Virat Kohli essays a flick en route to his 78 against Kent Spitfires on Friday.

Chasing the Indians’ total of 164 for six, Kent needed eight runs to hand the visitors another defeat on tour but Munaf conceded just two runs and cleaned up the dangerous Darren Stevens off the last ball with six required to seal India’s second successive win in front of a huge number of Indian supporters. Opener Joe Denly (100, 68b, 8x4, 3x6) single-handedly took the hosts to the door step of victory with a fluent century but fell in the penultimate over of the chase to deal a big blow to home hopes.

Inserted by Kent skipper Geraint Jones, the Indians rode on Virat Kohli’s flamboyant half-century (78, 52b, 7x4, 3x6) to post a competitive total after heavy spells of showers delayed the start by five hours. The umpires inspected the ground four times before it was decided to have a T20 match from 7.30 pm under ICC rules.

Parthiv Patel was out off the third ball of the innings bowled by David Balcombe but Rahul Dravid, replacing Sachin Tendulkar in the eleven, and Kohli added a brisk 49 runs off 41 balls to steer India out of the difficult period when the ball did a bit on a sweaty pitch. Then followed the best phase of the innings when Kohli and Rohit Sharma tore into the Kent attack in a fashion that has been their calling card in the Indian Premier League.

A well-settled Kohli was the dominant partner, pulling and driving as runs kept flowing from his willow. Rohit (30, 28b, 1x4, 1x6) was relatively subdued but in no way a mute spectator in the 69-run (49b) association which ended when Adam Riley cleaned up the Mumbai batsman. Kohli carried on the good work but his innings was cut short when the Delhi batsman responded late to Suresh Raina’s call for a second run.

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was dismissed next ball as two wickets off successive balls put a brake on India’s scoring. Raina’s woeful tour continued as he was dismissed for four off eight balls. The Indians owed what eventually turned out to be a winning total to the pyrotechnics of R Ashwin (23, 12b, 2x4, 1x6).

Kent’s chase began on promising note as openers Denly and Daniel Bell-Drummond added 23 in 17 balls before RP Singh dismissed the latter for the first breakthrough. The second-wicket stand between Denly and Martin van Jaarsveld was less punishing but more stable. 60 runs came off 51 balls as Denly turbo-charged his innings. The right-hander punished both the spinners – offie Ashwin and leg-spinner Amit Mishra – and even the tidy Munaf, dominating a 73-run partnership (44b) with veteran Stevens to power his team closer to victory.

With 49 needed off the last six overs, Dhoni summoned R Vinay Kumar, who had conceded 18 runs in his first two overs. The Karnataka paceman, however, gave away just four runs on his return. Ashwin went for eight in the 16th but the target still remained in Kent’s sight. RP Singh slightly tilted the balance towards Kent, leaking 12 in the 17th and 10 in the 19th overs with Vinay in between managing to keep the game in the balance by restricting the 18th over to seven runs.

With eight needed off the final over, Kent took two singles off the first two deliveries from Munaf before Sam Northeast played out three dot balls, and got run out bringing the equation to six off the last ball. The paceman bowled a perfect yorker to clean up Stevens and make up for his indifferent show against Sussex.

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