Kent claimed the last remaining place in the semi-finals of the Royal London One-Day Cup with a 24-run victory over Gloucestershire at Canterbury.
On a slow, low pitch that made fluent strokeplay difficult throughout, Sam Billings produced a match-winning knock of 61 from just 36 balls to help the home team reach 242 before they were bowled out.
Gloucestershire’s run chase started brightly with Chris Dent making 40, but the opener’s dismissal sparked a collapse that saw them slip from 74-1 to a rather precarious 125-6.
Will Gidman (39) and Benny Howell (33) tried their best to repair the damage, carefully adding 53 for the seventh wicket until the former was bowled by a David Griffiths yorker during a crucial batting powerplay.
Kent’s seamers sealed the result in the closing stages, with Ben Harmison picking up 3-40. However, it had been their slow bowlers who had whittled their way through the visitors’ top order.
Fabian Cowdrey picked up 2-28 – including trapping Dent leg before – with his six overs of left-arm off-spin having earlier made a crucial 51 with the bat to help the Spitfires recover.
Kent not only started poorly but also finished badly in their innings, with captain Rob Key and Harmison falling in successive deliveries to leave the score at 11-2. They then lost their last six wickets for 22 runs, though in between they had done enough to post a respectable score.
Billings brutally took the attack to the Gladiators, but just as important in the context of the fixture was Sam Northeast’s knock of 78. He combined with Cowdrey in a pivotal third-wicket partnership worth 106, despite boundaries being at something of a premium.
David Payne picked up the wicket of the dangerous Darren Stevens for only 12 on his way to final figures of 5-44, though that breakthrough led to Billings coming to the middle.
The wicket-keeper, who whacked three sixes and seven fours in total, reached 50 from a mere 29 deliveries as he took his tally for the tournament this summer to 418 runs from just six innings.
He eventually fell lbw to Craig Miles (3-48) when walking across his stumps and aiming to the leg side. By that time Northeast had already gone too, and from then on Kent lost all momentum to be bowled out with nine deliveries still remaining.
However they still had enough on the board to see them through. Their reward is a trip to Edgbaston to take on Warwickshire, with the other last-four tie seeing Durham host Nottinghamshire.