A superb century by Sam Billings helped the Kent Spitfires to a four-wicket win over Somerset with four balls to spare, in a Vitality Blast thriller at Canterbury, writes Fred Atkins.

Kent were reeling on 37 for four in the fifth over but they were rescued a sensational innings by Billings, who hit a career best 106 from 66 balls, with 14 fours and two sixes.

The Spitfires’ skipper fell in the 19th, but with Kent needing just six from the last six balls, Joey Evison hit the winning runs to complete a brilliant comeback for the hosts, who closed on 198 for six.

Earlier, Will Smeed blasted 68 from 30 balls as Somerset posted 197 for six, while Tom Kohler-Cadmore was the next highest scorer with 42. Having shipped 95 in eight overs for the opening wicket, Kent reined the visitors in slightly as Matt Parkinson took two for 36 and Zak Crawley took four catches, equalling Kent’s Blast record.

Somerset were asked to bat and Smeed rode his luck at times, but he creamed Joey Evison for 18 in the eighth over, only to hit the final delivery to Tawanda Muyeye on the boundary.

Tom Banton went three balls later for 26, when Marcus O’Riordan saw him charge down the wicket and had him stumped off a wide. Parkinson then got Tom Abell for 12 when Crawley covered 40 yards to reel him in at deep midwicket.

Sean Dickson made 26 from 18 before he skyed Parkinson to Crawley, who then took his third catch when Kohler-Cadmore miscued a full toss from Beyers Swanepoel.

Lewis Gregory went for 12 when he hit Bartlett’s penultimate ball of the innings to Crawley on the cow corner boundary, but Crawley then hit the first ball of the Kent reply, from Overton, straight to Roelof van der Merwe.

Overton bowled Daniel Bell-Drummond for three and took a brilliant diving catch off Sonny Baker to remove Muyeye for 15 before O’Riordan went for 14, when he hit Jake Ball straight to Smeed at fly slip.

Billings and Denly dragged Kent back into it with an exhilarating stand of 109, before the latter went for 32 when he tried to ramp Ball and was caught by Baker.

The 18th over proved pivotal. Billings smeared Gregory through cover to reach his century and he celebrated by leaping in the air before doing a baby-rocking motion. Evison then hit successive fours to leave Kent needing just 10 from the last two.

When Billings was caught by Dickson on the boundary Kent still needed six off the last over, but Evison cut van der Merwe’s first ball for four and scrambled two off the next ball to complete a stunning win.

Kent’s Sam Billings said: “It was an awesome win against the champions as well. They’re a great side, so it’s great to get over the line and what a start to our home campaign here at Canterbury.

“Joe (Denly) wasn’t too impressed when I told him he’s going to bat in the middle order this year. He’s been fantastic for so long but we need that experience in the middle. It’s the hardest place to bat for a reason and it just felt like our combination potentially could be invaluable in this campaign.

“You’ve got the exciting talent of Tawanda and the guys at the top to give them license and freedom. It was a great partnership at nearly 11 an over, and I think we both compliment each other pretty well.

“The difference between being 50 at the end of the powerplay to in the past when we’ve been 35, those 15 runs really make a massive difference and they were probably the difference in the game. Even though he only faced four balls or something Marcus O’Riordan changed that momentum. Little contributions like that have been invaluable so I’m really happy for him as well.

“I took my time, I think I was 10 off 10 or something and that’s where I play my best, just giving myself a little bit of time because I know that I can put people under pressure. I think in the past I’ve maybe tried too hard to hit fifth or sixth gear too quickly and you know here at Canterbury the wicket’s so good that if you do get in it’s very hard for people to stop you.

“We just batted really well as a partnership and then Joey Evison, mature beyond his years, batted beautifully at the end. “We need a real shout to him and Marcus because I don’t think T20 values those contributions enough as they probably should.

“I had to do the baby celebration as my Mrs was watching on the stream. She’s happy and it’s been an amazing few months for us. Happy wife, happy life!

“It doesn’t mean anything if you don’t win the game so that’s the most important thing, to get the two points.”

Somerset’s Steve Kirby said: “We’ve just been Sam Billings-ed, haven’t we. I mean it was an incredible innings. He must take a huge amount of credit and the way his side hit that short side and absorbed that pressure. I thought we bowled brilliantly up front and we were able to get four wickets in the powerplay, but that partnership with Joe Denly hurt us big time.

“It’s not been our best bowling performance to be completely honest. We know we’re better tan that and I thought they bowled really well towards the end where they closed us down towards the long side. These are the things you have to learn and we will. We’re a resilient group, there’s some talent up there and we’ve got the bit between their teeth.

“It’s the kick up the backside we needed but you have to take your hat off to an incredible innings and we just have to get better.

“I think we chose the right bowlers on that particular surface, there wasn’t a huge amount of grip, there was a long side and a short side and that came into equation of whether we played Jack (Leach) or not but he’ll get his opportunity. Tonight, I think the way we batted, we batted absolutely brilliantly, the way Smeed and Bants put that pressure on at the start but to only get 197, I would have liked to have got a few more. They bowled well, we didn’t and we got Sam Billings-ed and we have to take our hat off.”