Mahmood pluck and a slice of luck seal Kent win

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The Independent Online

Kent made a successful start to the defence of their Twenty20 Cup crown with a six-wicket victory over Sussex at Canterbury last night.

The Spitfires, set 138 to win this South Division contest, secured victory off the second last ball after batsmen Azhar Mahmood – who was named man of the match after taking 1 for 13 and scoring 19 not out – and wicketkeeper Matt Prior missed a yorker from Sussex's West Indian paceman Corey Collymore which raced away for four byes.

Earlier, Kent captain Robert Key had put Sussex in after winning the toss and it proved to be a good decision. A combination of tight bowling – Yasir Arafat took 4 for 17 and James Tredwell 2 for 11 – and sharp fielding restricted Sussex.

A 68-run partnership for the first wicket between Key and Joe Denly, who top-scored for the home side with 50, set Kent on their way but it took some brave hitting from Mahmood down the order, and a touch of luck, to seal the win.

Essex strolled to victory over Surrey at The Oval after restricting the hosts to just 126 for 9 in another South Division game. The Pakistani leg-spinner Danish Kaneria did the most damage with 3 for 22 but Graham Napier (2 for 9) and Ravi Bopara (1 for 18) also impressed.

Varun Chopra fell early in the Essex run chase but it was plain sailing after that, Mark Pettini top-scoring with 66 as Essex cantered home with five overs to spare.

Lancashire beat Leicestershire by 52 runs in a North Division contest at Grace Road. Batting first, the visitors made a modest total of 157 of which the South African Francois du Plessis contributed 45.

Leicestershire were in trouble from the very beginning of their reply, losing two wickets with just 11 on the board, but it was not until the run-out of Jacques du Toit with the score on 95 for 4 that the wheels really came off: they lost their final six wickets for just 10 runs.

Durham beat Derbyshire by five wickets in a rain-affected game at The Riverside. Set 48 to win in five overs, they got there with a ball to spare. Northamptonshire amassed 201 at Taunton, a score that proved beyond Somerset in their Midlands/ West/Wales Division contest. David Sales hit 71 not out before the hosts managed just 176 for 7 in reply.