FRIENDS PROVIDENT TROPHY SEMI-FINAL, Riverside:
Kent 310-8 beat Durham 218 by 83 runs
Joe Denly showed off his talents with a fine century
Kent reached the Friends Provident Trophy final after comfortably beating holders Durham at Chester-le-Street.
Fine centuries from opener Joe Denly and the in-form Martin van Jaarsveld, who took 19 off the final over, got Kent up to an impressive 301-4.
A tight finish seemed on the cards with Will Smith and Dale Benkenstein going well, but a dramatic collapse saw the hosts bowled out for 218 in 43.1 overs.
Benkenstein was left stranded on 80 as James Tredwell picked up 3-37.
It was a fine performance from Rob Key's men, the surprise winners of the 2007 Twenty20 Cup showing that they have developed a liking for the big occasion.
Kent will play either Yorkshire or Essex in the August final at Lord's - their opponents will be determined following Sunday's other semi-final at Chelmsford.
Durham, the most consistent team across all formats of the game this season, suffered a rare off-day.
From the very beginning, with Shaun Pollock leaking runs in uncharacteristic fashion, and some less-than-perfect work in the outfield, the hosts looked to be on the back foot.
Denly and Key put on 96 in quick time, and once the captain had edged Steve Harmison behind, Denly and van Jaarsveld cruised through the middle overs, putting on exactly 100.
Harmison was easily the pick of the Durham bowlers, on a day when he regularly peaked above 90mph. He was also their only wicket-taker, with 4-47.
After Denly had gone for 102, Van Jaarsveld really tore into the Durham bowling over the closing overs as 53 runs came from the last four overs.
Every time we have a big occasion, every time we have a big crowd, Joe Denly shows what he can do
Albie Morkel was carted for 75 off his seven overs, and also had to bowl the final six balls of the match, with van Jaarsveld hitting one monstrous six and two delicate fours from the over to finish on 122 not out from 93 balls.
Durham's tough chase was made that much harder when Michael di Venuto and Phil Mustard departed almost immediately.
Paul Collingwood's quick 36 finally got them going, before Smith and Benkenstein put on 107.
But as soon as Smith fell, trying to heave Darren Stevens across the line, the Durham lower order had no answer, and Geraint Jones got stuck in with a fine stumping and a direct hit to run out Liam Plunkett.
It all ended with another run-out, and on a beautiful evening at the Riverside, the home supporters had to go home disappointed.
Benkenstein said afterwards: "We fought really hard to get here, but you don't get to Lord's easily.
"We knew it would be tough and we wish the Kent boys all the best for the final."
Key talked up the talents of Denly, who hit 15 boundaries in his 102 off 125 balls.
"Every time we have a big occasion, every time we have a big crowd, he shows what he can do," said the Kent captain.
The young opening batsman was overlooked for England's 30-man preliminary squad for the Champions Trophy, but Key added: "I'm sure his day will come."