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Paul Walter seals Battle of the Bridge as Kent fall to Essex

Essex 188 for 6 (Walter 47*) beats Knows 184 for 4 (Billings 48*, Crawley 40) with four wickets

Essex Eagles defeated Kent Spitfires by four wickets in a thrilling Vitality Blast derby in Canterbury.

Paul Walter scored the highest score with an unbeaten 47 when the visitors closed at 188 for six in response to Kent’s 184 for four, hitting the winning runs with two balls left.

Will Buttleman was the Eagles’ second-highest scorer with 37, while Fred Klaassen took two for 35 and was the only bowler to take more than one wicket in the match.

Sam Billings was Kent’s top scorer with 48 not outs, while Zak Crawley made 40. Matt Critchley had the best bowling figures of Essex with one for 16.

Kent won the toss in what was billed as “The Battle of The Bridge” and chose to bat, making one substitution from the side that lost to Somerset on Wednesday night, Matt Quinn taking the place of Grant Stewart.

Zak Crawley was just two when he was dropped by Critchley at the start of the second over and Kent raced to 60 with no loss at the end of the power play.

Daniel Bell-Drummond produced a succession of elegant cuts but he was bowled by Aron Nijjar for 31 and when Crawley then went to Simon Harmer for 40 pounds the scoring percentage slowed.

Joe Denly was the third highest-ranking batter to come out after making a start when he outed Daniel Sams for six, but he hit the next pitch almost vertically and was caught and bowled for 35.

Jack Leaning only made two when he knocked Harmer to Critchley, but the 17th over, bowled by Harman, went for 19 and a violent hit from George Linde saw him finish at 23, not out of 11 balls.

It looked like a competitive total, but Essex took 17 from Denly’s opening and Adam Rossington shot 29 from 16 balls, until Klaassen made a mess of his punches.

The visitors were 66 for one at the end of the power play, but lost to Michael Pepper for six when he spooned Linde to Klaassen on a point.

Buttleman then pulled Qais Ahmad to Crawley and Matt Milnes ripped out Critchley’s middle stump after a rapid fire 18.

Sams got a reprieve after an excruciating drop from Quinn when he was on number one, but he only added two more to his score as he drove Klaassen to Leaning and the run rate climbed above ten for the first time.

With the noose tightened, Essex took over 17 from 16th and 13 from 17th, tipping the equation in their favor.

Tom Westley was brilliantly knocked out for 15 by Billings at the start of the 18th, with the skipper tossing down the stumps while chasing a single, but Harmer then hit four consecutive fours off Quinn, leaving the Eagles needing six of the last left.

Harmer, who finished on 21 and not 11 balls, took five of the first three balls, forcing Walter Milnes to smear for four to take the win.

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