Denly hundred downs Surrey in 400-run thriller
Kent 207 for 2 (Denly 116*, Bell-Drummond 64) beat Surrey 205 for 5 (Roy 55, Finch 49) by eight wickets
Joe Denly hit a career-best 116 not out as Kent chased down 206 in the NatWest T20 Blast to beat Surrey by eight wickets in front of a near 25,000 sell out at the Kia Oval.
Denly carried his bat, hitting 76 of his runs in boundaries - including six sixes - to ease the visitors home with three balls to spare for their second win in three South Group starts.
Kent's reply to Surrey's 205 for 5 started in the twilight with Denly seemingly struggling to pick-up the early deliveries as Jade Dernbach conceded only a single in his opening over.
Denly and Daniel Bell-Drummond opened their boundary accounts in the second and third overs of the pursuit, but starved of sixes the crowd entertained themselves by starting a Mexican wave. They soon sat and watched as Denly took the game by the scruff of its neck.
Ravi Rampaul conceded 10 as Kent finished their Powerplay on 47 without loss - yet they were already 33 runs shy of Surrey's total at the same stage. Denly upped the tempo with a massive six against offspinner Gareth Batty into the first tier of the OCS Stand and, in trying to follow suit, Bell-Drummond, on 34, sliced into the deep off Rampaul to be dropped by Dernbach at deep cover.
Denly pulled his sixth four to reach a 32-ball 50 as Kent coasted to 91 without loss at the mid-point of their reply. The former Middlesex batsman clipped three sixes into the Pavilion in Sibley's next over to match Aaron Finch and Jason Roy by posting a century opening stand to leave Kent needing 94 off the final nine overs for victory.
Bell-Drummond notched his eighth fifty in the format from 36 balls and with five fours then Denly lifted six off Tom Curran to post Kent's record stand in the format for any wicket, beating Denly and Bell-Drummond's 151 scored against Surrey in Tunbridge Wells last July.
With only 43 needed the opening stand ended for 163 when Bell-Drummond heaved a Dernbach full toss to Ollie Pope at deep midwicket to go for 64 off 44 balls.
Kent promoted their IPL star Sam Billings to No. 3 and he soon laced Dernbach for a four through extra cover, then walked outside off stump to lap a six and four over fine leg against a bemused Sam Curran.
Denly reached his hundred in the 18th over from 54 balls, with eight fours and six sixes, and made it a competition-best before Billings forced a low Dernbach full toss into the hands of Tom Curran at deep point to make it 187 for 2. With 17 needed off 12 balls Denly clattered a straight four that almost felled bowler Tom Curran and scampered three to be on strike for the final over from Rampaul with seven needed.
Denly made room to clatter Rampaul's first delivery to the ropes at extra cover to raise Kent's 200. Alex Blake sprinted a single to tie the scores but Rampaul's slow-ball bouncer sailed past Denly over head-height leading to umpire Jeremy Lloyds to call a no-ball and spark Kent celebrations.
Batting first on an unusually green-tinted Kia Oval pitch after losing the toss, Surrey made a flying start through Finch and Roy, who plundered 108 for the first wicket.
Surrey's 50 was on the board after only 28 balls, forcing Kent to introduce the offspin of James Tredwell for the sixth over. The ploy backfired dreadfully for Kent skipper Sam Northeast as Finch clubbed three successive sixes and, with 23 coming off the over, the hosts reached 74 without loss by the end of their Powerplay.
Roy raced to a 26-ball 50 with eight fours and then posted his side's 100 with an impudent flip to the ropes at third man in the ninth over from Mitch Claydon, who ended the over by having Roy caught at long-off off a low full toss.
In a bid to keep pace off the ball Northeast introduced legspinner Denly and was rewarded when Finch dragged on to go for 49 off 25 balls with three fours and as many sixes.
Kumar Sangakkara's back-foot force against Adam Milne was caught overhead at mid-off by Blake. Milne yorked Dominic Sibley in his final over and then sprinted from his follow-through to run out Sam Curran by kicking the ball on to the stumps at the striker's end.
Milne finished with 2 for 33 and Surrey eased past 200 to their second highest T20 total on the ground and set Kent a tough asking rate of 10.3 an over for victory.