Kent facing defeat at Trent Bridge
Kent facing defeat at Trent Bridge

Kent go into day three facing the prospect of an innings’ defeat to league leaders Nottinghamshire trailing them by 86 runs.

After an excellent second session skittling the hosts out relatively cheaply after a flurry of wickets the Kent went into the final session perhaps confident they could reduce the arrears and build on a competitive score.

Sadly for the visitors the man seeing them through to the close of play was Sam Billings who now leaves the game to take up England Lions duty – Joe Weatherley will step in for Billings to take on the mantle for the remainder of the game.

Earlier in the day Steven Mullaney continued his excellent form in this match scoring a personal best 168.

Resuming on 135/3 (Mullaney 63*, Hales 28*) Notts edged closer to Kent’s first innings total and in bringing up one-fifty the Notts’ pair followed it with a century partnership inside the opening fifteen minutes.

As a marker for the tight bowling by the Kent side in the late session on day one Hales was in his twenties for fifty-nine balls and his resilience and patience came to fruition finding opportunities to move his score on – In striking a run-scoring straight drive to give Notts a first innings lead he followed it pushing the ball into the off-side for a single to bring about his half-century (104b, 6×4).

As the opening hour of play came to a close the day was certainly not going in the favour of the visitors as Adam Milne forced a rare unorthodox shot from Hales with the England international managing to get bat on ball and watch it fly through the air but safely over the gully area, Notts 202/3 (Mullaney 98*, Hales 55*) and in turn surpassing a one-fifty partnership.

Mullaney, man of the day on day one, registered his maiden 2017 first class century (102*; 173b, 18×4 – 206/3 (Hales 55*) as the Notts pair looked to add quick runs with relative ease.

Well into the opening session on day two Kent really were facing an uphill struggle as the hosts raced on to 266/3 (Mullaney 130*, Hales 78*), registering 131 runs in 25 overs’, and a lead of eighty-six.

But with the session coming to a close Sam Northeast in trying something different was immediately rewarded as Joe Denly took the wicket of Hales (85), edging to Sean Dickson, with the fifth ball of his opening over (274/4).

Centurion Mullaney (134*) and new-man Wessels (1*) saw out the remainder of the first session on day two with the hosts 278/4, leading by ninety-eight runs in a session comprising 143 runs with one wicket from thirty overs.

In gloomy surroundings the second session of the day began under lights with Kent on the hunt for quick wickets whilst also weary of the lead the hosts were beginning to well establish and with Claydon and Denly in the attack they both proved miserly as runs dried up much as they did under lights the night before.

Rikki Wessels was limited to three off thirty-three balls as the fifth wicket partnership of seventeen came from twelve overs (291/4) and with eighty overs on the board Kent and Claydon took the new ball with Adam Milne in tandem.

With Darren Stevens having not taken to the field since lunch the visitors attack was depleted and undeterred the hosts continued to amass runs and a substantial lead.

Mullaney, rarely looking troubled or in danger, moved onto and passed his one-fifty (247b, 22×4, 1×6) in turn registering another batting bonus point as the hosts passed three-hundred – Mullaney was now nearing his highest first class score.

James Tredwell, on as twelfth man for Stevens and usually a safe pair of hands, dropped Wessels (11) at second slip off the bowling of Coles (313/4) and in the following over dropped Mullaney (168*) off the bowling of Gidman.

In between Tredwell’s misfortune Mullaney had launched the first ball of the over for six over long-on moving onto 168* his highest first class score of his career, surpassing the 165 he scored against Somerset in July ’16.

Mullaney’s excellent innings came to an end midway through the session caught by Adam Rouse off the bowling of Matt Coles (168, 276b, 23×4, 2×6; 326/5) and he was soon followed back to the pavilion by the man who supported him well at the crease, Wessels (17), who in looking to go big off Gidman could only succeed to strike the ball high into the sky, caught by Rouse (336/6) and Kent had earned a second bowling point.

Kent were in the midst of a purple patch under the white lights with the pink ball with an unlikely chance of polishing off the Nottinghamshire innings before the break and struck twice more in quick-succession.

Pattinson (4) proved less effective with a bat playing a Coles delivery back onto his stumps (345/7) with new-man Luke Fletcher (0) returning only two balls later as twelfth man Tredwell proved third time lucky catching off the bowling of Gidman (346/8).

And with the interval fast-approaching Jake Ball’s cameo (19) ended looking to loft the ball cutely over third man but in not getting enough on it Gidman was amongst the action once more taking the catch, Claydon with the wicket (366/9).

Kent’s endeavour in the second session of the day paid off as they got the final wicket or Chris Read and Notts gifted it to the visitors. In looking to keep the strike Chris Read went for a quick single and with Luke Gurney (0) scurrying for the crease he didn’t make it as Sean Dickson ran out the tail-ender.

Nottinghamshire bowled out for 371 had established a healthy lead of 191 runs although at 345/6 the hosts would have hoped for better and Kent will be pleased to have kept the lead to less than two-hundred.

With the interval taken early Kent in the guise of Daniel Bell-Drummond and Dickson returned to the middle to get the second innings under way, Kent tasked with suppressing a deficit of 191 runs to avoid an innings defeat.

Despite a better start than their poor first innings start losing no wickets for six runs the first innings’ mainstay, Bell-Drummond (6), was unable to repeat his heroics, clean-bowled by a quick Ball delivery – Kent 9/1 still 182 runs adrift.

In what could have been a difficult time facing the league leaders’ opening bowling pair of Pattinson and Ball Kent were able to see off the latter but only as a result of Notts man sustaining an injury to his knee forcing him to leave the field (13/1).

Denly (19*) and Dickson (4*) both registered runs to avoid the acrimony of a pair in this match as Kent sought to make steady progress chasing down and reducing the deficit (34/1) unfortunately Denly’s efforts with the bat at Trent Bridge ended in the gloom of day two (19) caught behind by Read off the bowling of Fletcher, the ball coming off the inside edge – Kent 41/2 (Dickson 7*), trailing by 150 runs.

Kent found themselves three down as captain Sam Northeast (5) was tempted by a Gurney ball bowled across him and outside off-stump by the left-armer, edging through to Read, Kent 46/3.

Billings came to the crease as scheduled despite his impending day three and four absence as a result of England Lions duty and helped guide his side past fifty driving for four (Billings 5*, Dickson 9*). Kent 53/3 trailing by 138 runs.

Despite Billings’ participation and subsequent lack of there was trouble brewing at the other end as Dickson (12) followed his captain’s lead edging Gurney behind, this time to Brendan Taylor – Kent 64/4, 128 runs adrift of Notts’ earlier total.

In came Gidman after his excellent showing during the earlier session in the field, ahead of Darren Stevens, who was not involved during the second session and following successive fours to Billings (30*) Gidman (8*) earned himself two runs to physiologically reduce the deficit to two-figures (92/4) following it soon after with three more to take Kent past one-hundred (101/4; Billings 36*).

Billings and Gidman saw their side through to the close of play and Kent have a lot to do to get anything from this game, although the forecasted rain for day three might save Kent’s blushes just yet.

Matt Coles took 3-99 for Kent and was full of praise for Mullaney, but isn’t so keen on the pink ball:

“He batted very well to be fair to him and he showed us how to bat really. You need to bat time and buld a big score.”

“I’m not too keen to be honest. Personally, I think you can see a bit of a tail or something to it and you can’t really pick it up in the field in certain positions to certain shots. I found it to be pretty tough to be honest.”

Kent:

1st innings: 180 (Bell-Drummond 84*; Mullaney 3/2, Pattinson 3/30)

2nd Innings: 105/4 (Billings 39ret; Gurney 2/28)

Nottinghamshire:

1st Innings: 371 (Mullaney 168, Hales 85; Coles 3/99, Gidman 2/48)


 
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