Kuhn leads Kent into final
PUBLISHED: 09:38 18 June 2018
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Heino Kuhn's fourth century in his last five Royal London One-Day Cup innings lifted Kent into their first Lord's final in 10 years as they edged out Worcestershire by two wickets.
The in-form South African opener followed up his hundreds against Surrey, Gloucestershire and Nottinghamshire with another superb knock, his 127 steering Kent towards a victory target of 307 at New Road.
He was dismissed with four still required from three balls but Harry Podmore lifted Pat Brown over cover for a boundary off the very next delivery to break Worcestershire hearts.
Worcestershire had earlier recovered from 48-4 to post 306-6, largely thanks to the efforts of wicketkeeper Ben Cox, who registered 122 not out from 106 balls.
While Worcestershire were left to reflect on a semi-final defeat for the second successive year, Kent will face either Hampshire or Yorkshire on June 30.
The visitors lost the toss, with Worcestershire stand-in captain Callum Ferguson, deputising for the injured Joe Leach, opting to bat first.
But Worcestershire were left with a rebuilding job after losing early wickets.
George Rhodes edged former Worcestershire paceman Matt Henry to second slip, Ferguson was trapped in front by Podmore before Joe Clarke lofted a catch to mid-on off evergreen seamer Darren Stevens, who then bowled Daryl Mitchell off his pads.
Brett D’Oliveira and Cox had to be circumspect initially against some accurate bowling - typified by Stevens during a spell of 10-1-33-2 - and excellent ground fielding.
But they gradually started to blossom and although D’Oliveira survived a legside stumping chance off Joe Denly on 45, he went to his half-century off 65 balls – a milestone reached in three fewer deliveries by Cox.
D’Oliveira drilled Denly back over his head for the first six of the game in the 38th over but was dismissed four balls later for 78 after being caught at long-on, ending a 140-run stand.
Ross Whiteley was bowled off an inside edge by Podmore but Cox and Ed Barnard (50no from 28 balls) took 107 runs from the final 9.4 overs to usher the Rapids past 300.
Cox thrilled the crowd by bringing up his ton in the final over of the innings, in which Calum Haggett leaked 26 runs.
Kent’s reply began in similarly inauspicious fashion as they found themselves 31-3, with Daniel Bell-Dummond and Denly falling to Dillon Pennington and Sean Dickson drilling a catch to short cover off D’Oliveira.
Kuhn and Adam Rouse rebuilt the Spitfires innings with a century stand although both had let-offs when on exactly 50.
Mitchell failed to hold onto a low return catch from Kuhn and then Rouse was well short of his ground attempting a second run when D’Oliveira failed to gather cleanly a low throw from Barnard.
However, Rouse, having made 70 off 88 balls with six fours, hit Mitchell straight to Rhodes at mid-off and then Stevens (10) nicked a Brown delivery and Cox pulled off a fine catch away to his right.
Kuhn found another able partner in Alex Blake and Kent entered the last 10 overs needing 101 for victory.
The 34-year-old went to three figures from 99 balls with a six and seven fours but Blake was dismissed for 61 after picking out long-off.
Kent required 11 from the final over by Brown and a straight six from Kuhn tipped the scales in their favour, only for the 34-year-old to nudge to mid-wicket.
But Podmore found the boundary rope from the next ball to give Kent victory.
Kuhn saids: “To get a century in a semi-final makes it one of the better ones.
“I was heartbroken when I got out. It’s just my job to take us through and I was in tears, but luckily the boys pulled it through.”
Worcestershire head coach Kevin Sharp added: “It has been a rollercoaster tournament. There have been times when we’ve sometimes looked like we might be out of a game and we’ve clawed it back.
“Obviously gutted. The club has not been in a final for a while. I know we haven’t quite won this one but, two semi-finals in two years, maybe next time it will be a final.”