Kent close to Sussex win
Kent close to Sussex win

Daniel-Bell Drummond’s highest score of the county championship season, in turn surpassing four-thousand career first class runs, was the catalyst to put Kent on the verge of another victory and keep the pressure on league leaders Nottinghamshire at the end of day three.

Two late wickets for Joe Denly, including the dangerous Stiaan van Zyl (78), also inched Kent towards that goal as the visitors dug in to take the game into the fourth and final day.

Commencing on 116/0 (Bell-Drummond 68*, Dickson 42*) with a healthy 321-run lead Kent’s openers began steadily to add valuable runs towards the eventual declaration and inviting Sussex to see out the rest of the match.

Bell-Drummond was playing well fending off a couple of deliveries that rose up on him whilst Sean Dickson moved on to his fifth half-century of the season flashing the ball through the off-side for four, Kent well-set 133/0.

Coming from 126 balls it included two fours and was Dickson’s third half-century in a row against Sussex having registered scores of 68 and 89 in the victory at Hove earlier in the season.

The lead was extended beyond three-fifty with little to trouble the opening pair (150/0, Bell-Drummond 80*, Dickson 59*, lead 355).

After a drinks break upon the first hour of play on day three the visitors brought on Danny Briggs which would interest the Kent side and James Tredwell in particular and it was he who made the breakthrough, Kent losing their opening wicket of the second innings.

Looking to sweep Dickson (74) missed a straight one, out leg-before, with Kent 172/1, a lead of 377 runs – Joe Denly, Kent’s first-innings centurion, joined Bell-Drummond at the crease.

Bell-Drummond’s innings came to an abrupt end on ninety chopping the ball onto his own stumps (188/2).

New man Sam Northeast brought about a four-hundred lead for the hosts with a six off Briggs and in pulling a single later in the over Kent had amassed two-hundred for the loss of two wickets (Denly 14*, Northeast 8*).

As lunch approached on day three Denly and Northeast began striking the ball well, to and over the boundary rope – Denly striking three sixes in eight balls as Kent’s lead exceeded four-fifty following it with a boundary, Kent passing two-fifty for the innings (Denly 44*, Northeast 32*).

A Chris Jordan over brought about lunch with the hosts 258/2 (Denly 46*, Northeast 33*) and perhaps worthy of note that Jordan was bowling to a field with all the fielders bar the wicket-keeper standing on or around the boundary rope.

There was no lunchtime declaration and in the opening over after the interval Denly  (52*) cleared the infield earning four more runs to bring up another half-century from only thirty-nine balls including four boundaries and those early three sixes struck in quick succession.

Despite the fielding side covering the boundary all-around the Kent men plundered runs for a further seemingly unassailable total and the pair soon shared a one-hundred partnership as Denly (69*) clubbed a no-ball for six – He and Northeast (44*) doing so in facing seventy deliveries (294/2).

And as the clock struck 2pm Kent’s captain Sam Northeast (46*) declared their innings (298/2, Denly 71*) setting Sussex 504 runs to win this match – The unbroken third wicket partnership between Denly and Northeast plundering 110 in 77 balls.

Matt Coles and Darren Stevens were the men charged with opening the bowling – In their respective opening over’s Nash played around almost edging behind whilst Stevens got one to keep intriguingly low then beat the bat but Coles returning for his second over got the early breakthrough trapping Harry Finch (5) leg-before, leaving Sussex 6/1.

And Coles got in the act once more as Luke Wells (0) played the ball straight back to Coles, taking the caught & bowled offered (8/2), Wells subsequently dropping his bat and putting his head in his hands.

With Coles’success at one end it was perhaps unsurprising not to Stevens in the action but the next over he duly obliged beating Chris Nash’s bat to send the ball crashing into the stumps – Nash out for 3 leaving Sussex 8/3 – A call made to the dressing room for a new bail too as Stevens had broken one in taking the wicket.

With protecting runs not high on Kent’s agenda, the seven wickets all in focus, the attacking Kent field close-in provided plenty of opportunities for Sussex to score freely with van Zyl (23*) Luke Wright (33*) happy to take it on swinging the bat to anything remotely inviting (64/3).

Persistence paid off for Kent as Harris and Rouse combined to end a swashbuckling partnership as Kent’s wicket-keeper took a fine catch down leg-side and Wright (38), the captain, was dismissed, Sussex 73/4 (van Zyl 27*).

Van Zyl (47*) and Michael Burgess (15*) looked to and successfully steered the visitors through to the tea interval as Kent’s opponents rallied after early losses (108/4).

The evening session began on time but with it dark clouds were looming threatening to scupper Kent’s chances of some early-session successes but in James Tredwell and Darren Stevens the hosts had the options to avoid the umpires’ intervention.

Shortly into the session Stiaan van Zyl’s grit and determination earned him his half-century (89b, 9×4, 1×6), Sussex moving onto 114/4 (Burgess 16*).

Although the flow of runs was stemmed van Zyl (67*) and Burgess (23*) were able to further establish themselves with Kent’s bowlers in the session Tredwell, Stevens and later Harris not causing either batsmen too much in the way of danger, Sussex moving on to 136/4 with eighteen over’s remaining in the day.

Mixing up the bowling Northeast went to Joe Denly for the first time in the match and it almost paid immediate dividends finding the edge of van Zyl’s (72*) bat but the ball sped past first slip for four (141/4, Burgess 24*).

Denly persisted with the line outside off-stump and it reaped reward as van Zyl (78) was caught behind by Adam Rouse (158/5) – Van Zyl looking extremely disappointed at being given out.

Denly wasn’t finished or content with the one wicket and in his next over Chris Jordan (0) was out for a pair playing the ball straight back to the bowler for a caught and bowled (160/6, Burgess 36*).

Despite their best efforts Denly and Tredwell couldn’t break the pairing of Burgess (44*) nor Weiss (14*) as Sussex (182/6) saw out the day forcing a final day of action at The Nevill Ground.

The question at this stage is more when will Kent skittle out the visitors or will the weather take a turn for the worse to deny them victory – Although the forecast suggests the latter won’t come into play.

Despite missing out on his first ton of the red-ball campaign Kent’s top-scorer Bell-Drummond was happy with his side’s position in the match.

“Sure, I’m disappointed not to get to three figures, but I’m happy with my form overall and that’s something to take forward into the next games.”

“Would we have taken this position at the toss on the first morning? Yes, 110 per cent. We’ve got four more big wickets to get and they bat all the way down. They won’t make it easy for us, that’s for sure.”

“The new ball is the danger time on this surface and once you get through that 30 over period you can bat longer. The new ball is key and if we need a second new ball on the last day we must make it count.”

Kent:

1st Innings: 369ao (Denly 119, Stevens 44, Rouse 44, Gidman 42; Weiss 3/54, Philander 3/78)

2nd Innings: 298/2dec (Bell-Drummond 90, Dickson 74, Denly 71*)

Sussex:

1st Innings: 164 (Weiss 36; Stevens 5/40, Harris 3/37, Tredwell 1/4)

2nd Innings: 182/6 (van Zyl 78; Denly 2/21, Coles 2/30)


 
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