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Bell-Drummond puts Kent in charge
Bell-Drummond puts Kent in charge

A Daniel Bell-Drummond century helped Kent to 271 for seven against Hampshire, after a fluctuating first day in their LV= Insurance County Championship match at Canterbury.

Bell-Drummond hit 149 from 231 balls, with 25 fours and a six, as he put on 126 for the fourth wicket with Kent’s next highest scorer Jordan Cox, who made 51.

The hosts were on top for the first two sessions, but Hampshire used the new ball to bowl themselves back into contention, Keith Barker ending the day with four for 36 and Mohammad Abbas taking two for 57.

Abbas struck in the seventh over, getting Zak Crawley caught behind for seven after Kent had won the toss and chosen to bat, in sunny but blustery conditions at the St. Lawrence.

Bell-Drummond, who’d struggled in his three previous innings this season, came in at three and brought up his fifty just before lunch, stylishly cutting Mason Crane to the deep-backward point boundary. He cracked two further fours in the same over, leaving Kent on 97 for one at the end of the morning session.

Ben Compton was out shortly after the resumption, for under three figures for the first time this season, when Barker pinged back his off stump for 27, ending a stand of 98.

Barker then removed Tawanda Muyeye for just one, strangling him down the leg side where he was caught by Ben Brown.

The scoring rate slowed to a crawl for the next hour, but when Crane returned Bell-Drummond cashed in, hitting him for successive fours to bring up his hundred, the first a cut to third man, the second a drive through mid-on.

Kent were 177 for three at tea and Bell-Drummond ramped up the pressure early in the evening session, smashing Felix Organ for six over long on. Cox, perhaps mindful of his seven-ball dismissal in the loss to Lancashire, was less hurried, scoring at around half Bell-Drummond’s rate.

When Kyle Abbott finally trapped Bell-Drummond lbw in the 85th over, the momentum shifted. Although Cox reached 50 driving Abbas through long off for four, Barker then had Ollie Robinson caught behind for seven and Cox was caught behind off Abbas.

Barker subsequently removed Matt Milnes for four, caught by Liam Dawson at second slip, leaving Darren Stevens, who was unbeaten on 13 and Hamid Qadri (two not out) to bat out the final two overs.

Kent’s Daniel Bell-Drummond said: “I’m very happy, I was just trying to be positive out there and play my natural game and I’m glad it came off today. I felt good so hopefully I’ll keep the form going and keep going from strength to strength.

“I think that’s the beauty of our batting order. People can drop anchor and play shots, myself I can play a bit more defensively. We’ve seen how attacking Cox can be so I think it’s just recognising the situation and how you’re feeling there and then. Compton’s been brilliant, he’s had an outstanding start to he season and he’s great to bat with as well. With that left, right-hand combination you always get a few more bad balls.

“It went through periods, sometimes I thought it was quite flat, sometimes they had quite skilful bowlers who were able to extract something from it. I’m not too sure what a good score is.

“Our feelings are pretty mixed to be honest, we worked hard out there but they bowled well with the second new ball so the game’s still in the balance to be honest. We’d have liked to have gone in three, four or five down at the end of the day, but we’re still pretty content.”

Hampshire’s Keith Barker said: “It was a bit of a graft out there. We’d have liked the ball to have done a little bit more, but it was a pretty good wicket, so we stuck in there all day and got our rewards towards the end. They played pretty well, Bell-Drummond once he got in made it difficult, they built partnerships pretty well.

“Just towards the end we managed to plug at it enough and got a few wickets. I think we bowled pretty well, Kyle Abbott especially was unlucky early on. We deserved another few wickets to be honest.

“We lost the toss and they decided to bat and I think they won’t be as happy as they would like to have been, so it’s been a good day for us.”