|Royal London One-Day Cup, Blackfinch New Road|
|Worcestershire 306-6 (50 overs): Cox 122*, D’Oliveira 78, Barnard 50*|
|Kent 307-8 (49.4 overs): Kuhn 127, Rouse 70, Blake 61|
|Kent beat Worcestershire by two wickets|
Heino Kuhn hit his fourth One-Day Cup century in five innings as Kent beat Worcestershire by two wickets to reach their first Lord’s final since 2008.
Ben Cox’s brilliant unbeaten 122 enabled the home side to post a total of 306-6 after being 48-4 early on.
He put on 140 with Brett D’Oliveira (78) and 109 in just 9.4 overs with Ed Barnard, who made 50 not out.
But Kuhn made 127 off 118 balls and Alex Blake smashed 61 off 47 as Kent reached 307-8 with two balls to spare.
Harry Podmore struck the winning boundary off Patrick Brown, one of two teenagers in Worcestershire’s bowling attack, after Kuhn holed out from the previous delivery after striking two sixes and eight fours in his innings.
It was a thrilling end to a fascinating contest, which saw Worcestershire, who were without Moeen Ali because of England duty, in trouble after losing their top four inside 14 overs, only for Cox to turn the tide back in their favour.
His partnership with D’Oliveira was a club record for the fifth wicket in List A cricket and it took an astonishing one-handed catch in the deep by Matt Henry to bring it to an end, as D’Oliveira fell to Kent skipper Joe Denly’s leg-spin.
Barnard, though, arrived in the 41st over and produced a series of audacious strokes, including two sixes, in his 28-ball knock as he and Cox pushed the total beyond 300.
Dillon Pennington, the other 19-year-old in Worcestershire’s team, sent Daniel Bell-Drummond and Denly back cheaply at the start of Kent’s reply.
But the home side paid the price for Daryl Mitchell dropping a straightforward caught and bowled chance offered by Kuhn, when he was on 50.
Kuhn had another escape on 57 when keeper Cox superbly anticipated his ramp shot, but was unable to hold the catch as he leapt into the air.
Adam Rouse (70) added 114 for the fourth wicket with the South African, but the required rate exceeded 10 an over at one stage.
Blake, though, smashed three sixes and three fours and Kuhn went to his hundred off 99 balls, passing 650 runs in this year’s competition in the process, as Kent closed in on their target and they will face either Hampshire or Yorkshire at Lord’s on 30 June.
It was Worcestershire’s second home semi-final defeat in successive years, having lost to Surrey by 153 runs in 2017.
Worcestershire head coach Kevin Sharp told BBC Hereford &Worcester:
“I’m very proud of the boys. They worked so hard and are improving all the time. Although they are still relatively young in age, they are more experienced now and are actually learning how to win games.
“I know we haven’t quite won this one but two semi-finals in two years, maybe next time it will be a final.
“It has been a rollercoaster tournament. We’re obviously gutted. The club has not been in a final for a while.
“It looked at times as if we would do it, that there might be a twist in the tail but it was not quite meant to be in the end.”
Kent batsman Heino Kuhn told BBC Radio Kent:
“It’s definitely one of the better centuries I’ve scored. I’m happy to have contributed for the team, to get us to the semis and to Lord’s.
“We lost a couple of early wickets and that made it tough for me to get going but Rousey came in and played a great knock, and Blakey played a phenomenal innings.
“I was well broken when I got out, It was my job to take us through and to get out at that stage, I was in tears.
“I said when I signed here that I want to win trophies and everyone in that changing room is the same. Come Lord’s, we will be up for it.”