Sensational Kuhn carries Kent to Royal London Cup final

Heino Kuhn’s ton overshadowed Ben Cox’s maiden ton and half-centuries from Brett D’Oliveira and Ed Barnard as Kent sealed a place in the final of the Royal London One-Day Cup as they defeated Worcestershire by two wickets in a thrilling encounter at New Road on Sunday (June 17). Set 307, Kuhn continued his red-hot form and scored 127 off 118 to take the team home in 49.4 overs.

Things could have been significantly different for Worcestershire, and much easier for Kent, had the troika not rescued them from 48 for 4. George Rhodes (2), Callum Ferguson (13) and Daryl Mitchell (4) failed to get going as Worcestershire were in all sorts of trouble in the first 13 overs. However, Cox first collaborated with D’Oliveira to dig the team out of trouble before Barnard lifted the side to a fighting total with a late 28-ball 50.

Cox and D’Oliveira scored 140 for the fifth wicket to frustrate the Kent bowlers and nullify the early damage done. Worcestershire lost D’Oliveira and Ross Whiteley (4) in quick succession to wobble again and slip to 199 for 6. Cox and Barnard then scored 107 for the seventh wicket in 9.4 overs to change the complexion of the game. They scored 48 runs in the last two overs to go into the break with the momentum on their side.

Things didn’t start too well for Kent either. Dillon Pennington’s twin strikes meant they slipped to 31 for 3. Kuhn and Adam Rouse (70) then scored 114 for the fourth wicket to revive the chase and put the innings back on the track. Worcestershire stayed in the game till the very end with timely wickets of Rouse and Darren Stevens (10) to reduce Kent to 162 for 5. However, Kuhn refused to give in and collaborated with Alex Blake (61 off 48) to help the team nose ahead with a 115-run stand in 13.3 overs.

That stand pushed Worcestershire on the backfoot before Blake and Matt Henry were dismissed late into the innings. Kuhn’s attacking approach though reduced the chase to a very doable 16 off the last two overs. The twists and turns of the game though didn’t end there. Barnard gave five in the 49th over to leave 11 to defend in the final over for Patrick Brown. Kuhn smashed the second ball for a six but was dismissed off the very next ball with four more needed. Harry Podmore struck a boundary to ensure Kent got home with two balls to spare.

Brief scores: Worcestershire 306/6 in 50 overs (Ben Cox 122*, Brett D’Oliveira 78, Ed Barnard 50*; Darren Stevens 2-33) lost to Kent 307/8 in 49.4 overs (Heino Kuhn 127, Alex Blake 61; Patrick Brown 3-53) by two wickets.

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