GLOUCESTERSHIRE maintained their unbeaten start to the T20 Blast season with a six wicket victory over Kent at Cheltenham College.

Having tied with Middlesex in a thrilling game last Friday, Michael Klinger's side went one better thanks to four wickets from Benny Howell and innings' of note, from Phil Mustard, Ian Cockbain and Cameron Bancroft.

Having been asked to bat first, Kent made a decent start thanks to Joe Denly and Daniel Bell-Drummond. However, when that pair were parted, at 45 for 1 in the sixth over, it was Gloucestershire who took the game by the scruff.

Denley (39) followed Bell-Drummond (16) back to the pavilion, 11 runs later, when he was well caught by Tom Smith on the deep square leg boundary.

From 56 for 2, Kent slipped unceremoniously to 87 for 5 in the 12th over with Sam Northeast (5) holing out to Smith, again on the deep square leg boundary, at 72 for 3 and James Neesham (9) edging Chris Liddle to wicket keeper Mustard at 84 for 4.

Alex Blake (2) handed Smith a third catch, to leave Kent on 87 for 5 in the 12th over, and at that juncture, Kent appeared to be limping towards a rather modest total.

Billings and sixth wicket partner Darren Stevens had different ideas and although Gloucestershire continued to bowl and field well, the visitors progressed at 10 an over until Matt Taylor took a fine catch at backward square off the bowling of Benny Howell, to send back Billings for 36. Howell, who had already taken the wickets of Northeast and Denly, added his fourth scalp before the end of the 17th over when Matt Coles holed out to Jack Taylor at long on for a first ball duck at 128 for 7.

From that juncture, Kent limped to 152 for 8, leaving Gloucestershire a total that was always well within their grasp.

Openers Michael Klinger and Mustard provided the perfect platform on which the hosts could build. The pair kept the board moving in the opening overs with Mustard punishing anything up to the bat.

However, having added 35 for the first wicket, they were eventually separated when James Tredwell bowled Klinger for 13 in the sixth over.

Cockbain and Mustard (42) added 41 for the second wicket before the latter carelessly drove T20 debutant Imran Qayyum to mid-wicket where Sam Northeast took a smart catch.

Although Coles took an even better catch – one handed – to dismiss Cockbain for 31 at 108 for 3, Gloucestershire had already batted themselves within sight of victory.

Qayyum and Coles did their bit to claw Kent back into the game and the former bowled particularly well from the Chapel End. However, Bancroft once again proved his worth and with Howell batting as well as he bowled, the result was never really in doubt.

The pair added 40 for the fourth wicket and helped Gloucestershire to victory with six wickets and five balls in hand. 

Gloucestershire's Beny Howell said; "After the dramatic game we had against Middlesex last week, it was nice to win this one. 

"They went quite hard early on, with the bat, but we pegged it back and took wickets at important times.

"I thought our bowling and fielding was excellent.

"With the bat, we were good too. We said we must get complacent and we didn't. That was the main thing.

"The wicket was a bit two-paced at times, so it wasn't as easy as it might have been. But it's a good win."

Kent's Imran Qayyum said; "I suppose it's a case of mixed feelings for me. It was great to get my debut after being on the staff for four years, but I am disappointed that we lost.

"I suppose we were always playing second fiddle to Gloucestershire, but with four or five overs left, we were still in with a chance.

"Fair play to Gloucestershire, they got it right on the day and all credit to them.

"We just need to bounce back straight away if we can."