Worcester: Worcestershire 351-8, Kent 353-3 - Kent win by seven wickets
Double century-maker Ollie Robinson hit Kent's highest individual score in List A cricket as they chased down a 352 target with 5.1 overs to spare in their opening Royal London Cup encounter with Worcestershire at New Road.
Robinson seized upon the opportunity presented by Kent captain Sam Billings and Jordan Cox's inclusion for The Hundred after spending the 2022 Vitality Blast on loan to Durham.
He surpassed the previous best Kent performance in 50-over cricket of 150 not out by Joe Denly against Glamorgan at Canterbury four years ago. A lofted cover drive for four against Josh Baker took Robinson to his double ton from 130 balls and was the cue for a standing ovation all around the ground and he ended on 206 not out.
Former Kent academy player, Kashif Ali, had scored an impressive 114 on his List A debut for Worcestershire who recovered from 36 for 4 to post what looked like a formidable total.
But Robinson received superb support from Ben Compton during a stand of 204, Kent's highest second-wicket partnership against any county in this format of the game.
It was a reversal of what happened in last summer's corresponding fixture when Worcestershire chased down a 323 target. Former Worcestershire pace bowler Matt Henry, in his only match in the competition before linking up with New Zealand, struck a treble blow as the home side slumped to 36 for 4 after opting to bat.
Ed Pollock edged the first ball of the innings to second slip, captain Brett D'Oliveira picked out square leg and Jake Libby was taken at short extra cover in an opening spell by Henry of 3 for 20.
With Azhar Ali lbw working to leg off Grant Stewart, Kent were very much in the ascendancy before Kashif and Barnard began their rescue act. Runs flowed at a rapid rate once Henry had been removed from the attack and it is testament to Kashif's rapid elevation that he looks completely at home at this level.
Robinson broke Joe Denly's 50-over record for Kent (Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)
He completed a 49 ball half century and then a regal back foot drive square of the wicket off Hamid Qadri took Barnard to that milestone from 56 deliveries. No one was able to stem the stream of boundaries and the fifth-wicket pair had plundered 175 from 28 overs when Barnard, on 79, fell to a head high catch at mid-off against Matt Quinn.
It surpassed Worcestershire's previous best fifth wicket List A partnership of 169 by Ben Cox and George Rhodes against Yorkshire at New Road in 2019. Kashif went onto complete his century with a clip through midwicket in the same over and had moved onto 114 from 99 balls when he drilled Hamid Qadri to mid off where Quinn took a fine low catch.
But there was no let-up for Kent with Ben Cox, on his return to action after taking a break for mental health reasons, and Joe Leach adding 74 in just 7.5 overs. Leach had made 48 off just 28 deliveries when he lofted Quinn to deep midwicket but Cox went onto a 43 ball half century with two sixes and three fours in a vintage knock.
When Kent batted, left arm seamer, Ben Gibbon, struck an early blow when Joey Evison turned the ball off his hips straight to fine leg. But then the dominance of bat over ball then resumed after Ollie Robinson and Ben Compton came together.
Robinson was in particularly destructive form against seam or spin and he reached three figures when lofting D’Oliveira for his 13th four in addition to striking three sixes. The partnership of 204 in 28 overs ended when Compton, on 75, pulled D'Oliveira down Barnard's throat at deep midwicket.
Alex Blake was strangled down the leg side off Dillon Pennington but there was no let-up from Robinson. He reached his double hundred with a lofted off drive against Baker from just 130 balls with six sixes and 26 fours.
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