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Date: Friday 07 September 2012
James Sykes took a superb five-wicket haul but Kent Second XI edged to the most thrilling of victories in the Second XI Championship Final at Grace Road.
Kent looked in trouble on 119-7 after Sykes picked up the first four wickets to fall on the final day before Calum Haggett (62*, 139b, 6x4) and captain Simon Cook (35, 103b, 3x4) added 95 for the eighth wicket.
Sykes (27.4-6-55-5) completed his five-for by dismissing Cook on his farewell appearance and Ben Collins then trapped Ivan Thomas lbw with ten required.
But Haggett continued to play well and 16-year-old Jack Laraman held his nerve with an unbeaten five, including a vital boundary, to see Kent home by one wicket.
Kent resumed on 45-2 needing a further 180 to win with Ben Harmison and Sam Billings at the wicket.
Leicestershire were dealt an early blow as Jigar Naik wasn’t able to bowl after sustaining a knee injury taking a catch yesterday and Harmison launched Sykes for six in the opening over to demonstrate the visitors’ intent.
Billings (32, 34b, 7x4) drove down the ground for a brace of fours as he also started aggressively but County made a key breakthrough as the keeper edged Sykes to Greg Smith, who took a sharp catch at slip.
Adam Ball (2, 37b) dug in but then left a Sykes delivery that took out off-stump with the score on 80. The slow left armer then claimed the wicket of first innings half-centurion Fabian Cowdrey lbw for 7 (18b, 1x4) as Kent slipped to 90-5.
That brought another man to the wicket who made 50 in the first dig in Chris Piesley, so this was the key partnership.
Harmsion moved towards 50 but the number three fell on 44 when he edged Sykes, who had intelligently gone around the wicket to the two left-handers in the previous over, to Smith. The slip fielder took another good catch and Kent were 99-6 at that stage.
Piesley and Haggett had formed an alliance in the first innings and the batsmen each hit Sykes for four. However, Robbie Williams had Piesley (12, 36b, 1x4) caught down the leg-side by Paul Dixey and Kent were in big trouble on 119-7. The visitors moved to 131-7 at lunch with Cook unbeaten alongside Haggett.
The duo advanced the score to 148 and Collins (7-3-17-1), who came into the team for Naik, was introduced for his first bowl at the Pavilion End. Haggett drove through mid-on for four to register the 50 stand and the batsman later nudged one past the keeper as he homed in on 50.
The score passed 200 in the 70th over and Haggett recorded his half-century in the same over from his 106th delivery. The batsman hit five fours along the way and then tickled a sixth boundary down to fine leg as the target dropped below 20.
Cook moved to 35 before another twist as he became another victim of the Sykes- Smith combination, the left-armer completing his five-wicket haul. Collins then trapped Ivan Thomas lbw with ten still needed and momentum had completely changed.
Laraman played sensibly alongside Haggett and after the duo gathered four singles, Laraman touched away a four to take the target to two. Haggett then nicked Sykes past slip for a brace to land an exciting victory for Kent.
Kent 2nd inns (target 225)
Harmison c Smith b Sykes 44
Billings c Smith b Sykes 32
Ball b Sykes 2
Cowdrey lbw Sykes 7
Piesley c Dixey b Williams 12
Haggett not out 62
Cook c Smith b Sykes 35
Thomas lbw Collins 1
Laraman not out 5
Total 225-9 (won by one wicket)