Essex 155 for 6 (Critchley 63*)Kent 150 for 8 (Denly 39, Cook 4-18) by four wickets
Sam Cook took a hat-trick as Essex beat the Kent Spitfires by four wickets in the Vitality Blast at Canterbury.
The visitors recovered from an early-innings scare to close on 155 for 6, Matt Critchley hitting an unbeaten 63.
Cook had taken 4 for 18 as Kent were held to 150 for 8, which actually represented a recovery. Joe Denly was the top scorer with 39 and Grant Stewart gave the hosts something to bowl at with 37 from 16 balls, but after slumping to 31 for 4, Critchley's measured innings saw Essex home with 10 balls to spare.
Kent's decision to bat backfired when, having put on 32 for the opening wicket, they were rocked by a spell of four runs for four wickets in eight balls.
Daniel Bell-Drummond got away with an ugly shot off Shane Snater that sailed over the boundary, but he hit the next ball almost vertically and was caught by Feroze Khushi for 22.
Cook then sent Tawanda Muyeye's stumps flying before getting Sam Billings caught behind for a golden duck and he claimed his first Blast hat-trick when Jordan Cox was plumb lbw.
With under five overs gone the remaining batters had little choice other than to drop anchor and Jack Leaning had made nine from 20 balls when he hit Critchley to Daniel Sams at forward square leg.
When Simon Harmer's 15th over went for just two the old joke about it not being a test match leapt to mind, but the charge finally came in the 17th when George Linde hit Harmer for six, only to edge the next ball straight to Robin Das.
When Cook bowled Denly, Stewart was left with the tail, but an eight-ball final over from Sams went for 27, including two sixes from Stewart, who was eventually caught by Das off the fifth legitimate delivery. A misfield allowed Kent to scramble two off the last ball, but the total still looked below par, until Essex started to bat.
Fred Klaassen, back after missing the start of the Blast for personal reasons, had Khushi lbw with the second ball of the innings.
It was one for two when Dan Lawrence edged Michael Hogan's first ball down the leg side where he was brilliantly caught by Billings.
Hogan then bowled Das's middle stump for 11, breaking Sky's stump camera and when Michael Pepper went for 13, skying Kane Richardson to Billings Essex were 31 for four, but Paul Walter and Critchley steadied their nerves.
The former made 27 from 15 before he cut Stewart to Leaning and Sams chipped in with 17 before Linde bowled him.
Critchley never allowed the run rate to escalate while Will Buttleman survived an lbw shout from Linde and then reverse swept him for four, before hitting Hogan for six into the Old Dover Road gardens.
Fittingly Critchley hit the winning runs when he hit Joe Denly for six over cow corner.
The win keeps Essex well in contention for Finals Day and a fifth consecutive defeat leaves Kent's hopes of qualifying looking almost skeletal.