Essex win on last ball

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Essex finally got their Benson and Hedges Cup campaign under way on yesterday with a thrilling last-ball victory over Kent at Canterbury.

Kent, with six wickets in hand in a match reduced to 39 overs a side because of rain, required an unlikely 16 runs from the last over to overtake the Essex total of 175 for 8. But England all-rounder Mark Ealham swung Mark Ilott for six over midwicket off the penultimate delivery to leave his side needing only two runs off the final ball to tie the game, and win by virtue of losing fewer wickets. But Ealham was comprehensively bowled by Ilott to leave Essex winners by two runs.

Surrey were level on points with Essex at the top of the group after a comfortable 36-run victory over Sussex on the Duckworth-Lewis scoring system in another rain-affected match.

After Sussex were all out for 97 in 44 overs, Surrey had reached 61 for 1 off 20 overs when rain ended the match.