By CONRAD SUTCLIFFE
HAL Kerton smashed an unbeaten half-century as Plymouth kick-started their season with a seven-wicket win over Paignton in the Sunbelt Devon T20 Cup.
Having lost by one wicket in a low-scoring game at Exmouth in the first round of league fixtures, and suffered a rain-off against Cornwood in round two, Plymouth needed a pick-me-up.
Paignton were restricted to 132 for four in the Twenty20 tie at Mount Wise, which Plymouth knocked off with more than three overs to spare to go into the quarter-final hat.
Jon Varcoe, the Plymouth captain, said Paignton were a little below full strength but that should not detract from the value of the win.
“We bowled well – really well – and had we taken all the chances we created Paignton would not have made as many as they did,” said Varcoe.
“Teddy Haffenden came in and bowled his leg-spin with control and Joe Hagan-Burt’s three overs included a maiden – gold dust in Twenty20 cricket.
“Although it looks like Dan Goodey (1-34) went for a few, a lot of those were off the edge and behind square and included a five when a throw-in was ‘kicked’ away for four.
“I always felt we were in control of the game, although it was not that easy to chase 133 as the pitch was a bit feisty. Hal Kerton batted superbly and it was nice to get a few myself.”
Paignton opener Harry Ward, who was dropped by Plymouth in the 30s, batted through for an unbeaten 85 off 63 balls.
Paignton were a wobbly 43 for four at one stage with Sri Lankan pro Sehan Weerasinghe in and out for four, but Ward and Cole Harford (30no) put on 89 unbroken to post a total.
Plymouth lost Hagan-Burt, James Degg (21) and Rob Bennett getting to 37, but did not lose another wicket chasing down the runs.
Kirton – who hit seven four and a six on the way to 52 not out – and Varcoe (32no) shared an unbroken stand of 98 to win the game.