Kent's Friends Life t20 hopes ended as they suffered two calamitous run-outs during a 23-run home defeat to Essex under lights in Canterbury.
- Related Content
The Spitfires' fifth defeat of the campaign confirmed the the exit of the 2007 champions, but Essex, with five wins and 10 points, could still qualify by beating Hampshire in Sunday's final round of South Group games.
Sam Northeast and Darren Stevens were run out in embarrassing fashion in the space of three balls as Kent made 126 for nine in reply to Kent's 149 for five.
Kent made an appalling start in pursuit of their 150-run victory target and never got out of first gear thereafter.
The hosts lost opener Sam Billings (eight) to former Kent seamer David Masters 27 balls into the response and then, with only 21 for one on the board after the power play overs, Rob Key attempted to accelerate with an ambitious clip to leg only to play around one from James Franklin and depart for seven.
Although Essex used six bowlers in the opening 10 overs of the reply, Kent's top order were seemingly unable to master any of them and limped to the mid-point of their innings on a paltry 42 for two.
The spitfires suffered a setback soon after when Northeast, having been dropped at deep mid-wicket by Tim Phillips, clashed with third-wicket partner Stevens when crossing for a second run and was run out by the return throw by Phillips for 16.
Stevens endured a similar fate one run and two balls later when, in calling for a single to cover, he was sent back by Azhar Mahmood and run out by Reece Topley's throw for only 10.
Mahmood had only 11 to his name when he perished in attempting a late cut against Masters only to chop the ball on to his stumps and make it 67 for five.
Alex Blake slogged a brace of sixes in his cameo 16, but fell when aiming another maximum against Topley and sidled off with his side on 73 for six and Kent's chances of reaching the last eight effectively went with him as they finished on 126 for nine in reply.
Having been invited to bat at the start of the night, Essex lost New Zealand all-rounder Franklin without scoring after he steered the second ball of the night from Mark Davies into the hands of Key at short mid-wicket.
Former Eagles' captain Mark Pettini then combined with Greg Smith to add an enterprising 98 in 12 overs for the second wicket, with Pettini the main aggressor.
The diminutive right-hander took 15 from one over of spin by Adam Riley, including a brace of sixes, the second of which landed in the top tier of the Frank Woolley Stand.
Pettini scampered to a 36-ball 50 but, with 99 on the board, Smith departed to a catch at deep mid-off against Stevens before Pettini, having been sent back when wanting a single to short leg, fell to a run out from Key's throw for 59.
Stevens struck again by having Ryan ten Doeschate stumped without scoring and, with the overs fast running out, visiting skipper James Foster attempted to clear the ropes only to pick out the man long on and leave Stevens with excellent figures of three for 13.
Owais Shah clipped a last over six against Azhar Mahmood and Essex were comfortably able to defend their total of 149 for five.