CHRIS LIDDLE took 5-36 as Gloucestershire claimed an unlikely Royal London One-Day Cup win over Kent by 12 runs in glorious Bristol sunshine.
Michael Klinger’s 134 looked to have paved the way for a challenging Gloucestershire total after they were asked to bat first. But a flurry of late wickets saw Matt Coles finish with 4-57 and the hosts restricted to 275-8, no more than a par score in the conditions.
It didn’t look like proving enough as Daniel Bell-Drummond followed up his tons against Somerset and Sussex with 90, off 108 balls, including eight fours. With Sean Dickson (50) and Sam Northeast (44) lending good support, Kent looked to be cruising.
Liddle had other ideas and from 200-2 in the 39th over, bowling a telling spell from the Ashley Down Road end as the visitors collapsed spectacularly, closing on 264-9.
The win was the Gloucestershire’s second in the competition and kept alive their slim hopes of a top three finish in the South Group, while Kent must accept elimination before the knock-out stage, having won only one of their first five games.
Klinger could hardly have done more, reaching his 16th List A hundred off 123 balls, with eight fours and three sixes, to help take the home side’s score to 260-3 before he was out.
The 36-year-old Australian hit three of his sixes into the flats at the Ashley Down Road End of the Brightside Ground, his favourite one-day shot at the venue, and progressed with increasing assurance on an excellent batting pitch.
Chris Dent (43) and Ian Cockbain (35) supported the captain well, but when Klinger was caught at deep mid-wicket off Joe Denly it signalled a rapid transformation in fortunes.
Far from building on their captain’s efforts with some big hitting at the end, Gloucestershire lost five wickets in less than two overs as Coles and James Harris (2-28) put themselves on hat-tricks.
With the sun still shining in a cloudless sky, a target of 276 did not appear likely to test Kent’s strong batting line-up.
They lost Joe Denly to a careless shot off Liddle with the total on 64, but Bell-Drummond, who survived a couple of early scares, and Dickson then put together a stand of 89 in 17.3 overs.
Dickson perished the ball after reaching a 62-ball half-century, with three fours and a six, picking out George Haskins at deep mid-wicket to give left-arm spinner Tom Smith a wicket.
By the time Bell-Drummond was brilliantly caught low down by Klinger at extra-cover off Liddle, Kent had posted 200 and needed a further 76 from 11.4 overs.
Northeast was established and playing well. His fourth six, over long-on off Jack Taylor was one of the biggest of the match.
Darren Stevens was visibly angry with himself when caught behind off Liddle trying to run the ball down to third-man and at 217-4, Kent were far from comfortable.
Soon it was Northeast trudging back to the pavilion having smashed Liddle straight to long-on where Jack Taylor took the catch. From looking in total command, the visitors were suddenly under pressure at 220-5.
More poor shots accounted for Matt Coles and Alex Blake and Gloucestershire sensed their chance. The Kent tail-enders flailed wildly without success and the game had been turned on its head.