Essex struck down by Kent as rain ruins Vitality Blast clash

The umpires ask the players to leave the field in anticipation of a thunderstorm during the match between Essex and Kent

The umpires ask the players to leave the field in anticipation of an approaching thunderstorm during the match between Essex Eagles and Kent Spitfires

Daniel Bell-Drummond hammered 50 off 29 balls as Kent Spitfires beat Essex Eagles by 28 runs on DLS – after lightning and then rain brought an early end to the Vitality Blast match.

Bell-Drummond clubbed his third fifty of the competition during an 89-run stand for the first wicket with Zak Crawley at Chelmsford.

The Spitfires endured two collapses to slump to 167-9 as Simon Harmer claimed 4-26, including his 50th Blast wicket for Essex, and Dan Lawrence a county T20 record of four catches in the innings.

But 31-4, including two scalps for Matt Milnes, in five overs meant the Eagles were short of the DLS target of 59 – handing Kent their sixth victory of the campaign.

Bell-Drummond and Crawley got the Spitfires off to a flier having been stuck in by Harmer on a used hybrid track.

Crawley received two lives, dropped on one and 14, as Bell-Drummond slapped Jamie Porter for two sixes – the visitors pummelling 82 off the powerplay.

But after two miserly overs, Kent collapsed in sensational style with five wickets lost for 22 runs in 25 balls, as spin took over.

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Nijjar, who eventually took 1-13 in an ungenerous spell, celebrated with Cristiano Ronaldo’s iconic ‘Sii’ leap after bowling Crawley for 43, before Joe Denly was caught by Lawrence at deep midwicket trying to replicate the six he had struck the previous ball and Jack Leaning was stumped off Harmer.

Lawrence turned snarer when Bell Drummond – who had reached a 28 ball half-century – spliced to a sprawling Harmer and Alex Blake was caught behind.

Newly contracted Darren Stevens and Jordan Cox resuscitated the innings with a 44-run stand, with Stevens clubbing a pair of sixes, but another wicket furry ended the innings – this time four wickets falling in 16 balls.

Stevens, Cox and Qais Ahmed were all caught by Lawrence and Matt Milnes was bowled by Jimmy Neesham with the last ball.

Unlike the Spitfires, the Eagles did not pump runs early on.

Will Buttleman was beaten by Milnes’ pace and bounce to be caught behind and Adam Wheater was leg-before attempting to sweep Joe Denly.

Michael Pepper chipped a Milnes slower ball to mid-off and former Spitfire Jimmy Neesham edged Fred Klaassen thickly to gully.

With lightning striking behind the Hayes Close End and then rain the game was called off after the fifth over - the minimum needed to create a result.

Harmer said: "It was a bit disappointing the way the game ended. I’ve just spoken to the match referee to air my grievances but it is part of cricket.

“There are always going to be a party which is happy and a party which is unhappy and we got ourselves into a situation where we almost lose the right to have an opinion because we were so far away from the game and that opinion could be seen as sour grapes.

“It is another game where we look back at the end of the season and think ‘what if’. It isn’t the end of our run but just makes the last five games even more important and makes sure we have to win every single one of them.

“We had an amazing opportunity there where we only needed 32 off the Powerplay if we didn’t lose any wickets, so in hindsight it is very disappointing having fought back in the game.”