Faf du Plessis earns some of his keep with quick 60 for Kent
Faf du Plessis duly delivered on debut for Kent‚ but he will need to do so again if his temporary employers are to get their money’s worth.
Du Plessis signed to play for Kent in their last two group games of the county T20 competition‚ and for the knockout rounds should they reach them.
His first assignment was in Canterbury on Thursday against Gloucestershire‚ who put up a decent 180/3 with Michael Klinger hammering an undefeated 102 off 65 balls.
Du Plessis took guard after 10 balls when Kent slipped to 11/1‚ and nine balls later they were 18/2.
That brought Sam Billings to the wicket to share a stand of 122 with the South African.
Du Plessis’s 60 off 45 balls was his team’s best effort‚ while Billings made 55 off 40.
But Kent scored only 35 more runs and lost five more wickets in the five overs of their innings that remained after Du Plessis and Billings were separated.
Victory for Kent would have sealed a spot in the quarterfinals‚ which start on Wednesday‚ but Gloucestershire won by five runs to join Sussex in the last eight.
Kent are in third place‚ as they were before Thursday’s game‚ with 14 points.
But Somerset‚ Hampshire‚ Middlesex and Essex are all a single point behind.
Of the nine sides in the South Group only Glamorgan‚ who have lost eight of their 13 games‚ tied one and had the other four washed out; and Surrey‚ who have 12 points after playing all their matches‚ are out of contention going into Friday’s last round.
Matters couldn’t be more different in the North Group‚ where Lancashire‚ Nottinghamshire‚ Derbyshire and Worcestershire have completed the quarterfinal line-up.
Down south on Friday‚ leaders Sussex take on second-placed Gloucestershire‚ with Somerset playing Middlesex‚ Glamorgan facing Hampshire‚ and Kent away to Essex at Chelmsford.
Du Plessis is likely to face the bowling of compatriot Simon Harmer‚ who captains Essex‚ and try to stop another South African‚ Cameron Delport‚ who has scored a century and 50 among his 245 runs in 10 innings‚ from making an impact.
Kyle Abbott is the second-highest wicket-taker in the tournament with 20 strikes for Hampshire‚ and should find himself at odds with another high profile South African on Friday.
AB de Villiers is due back on duty for Middlesex.