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Essex dominate at Canterbury
Essex dominate at Canterbury

Feroze Khushi’s 164 was the highlight of a light-affected second day in the LV= Insurance County Championship at Canterbury, where Essex posted 573 before reducing Kent to 74 for four in reply.  

Khushi’s maiden first-class century came from 228 balls and included two sixes and 18 fours, while Matt Critchley made 90 and Ben Allison 53. 

Sam Cook and Jamie Porter then claimed two for 14 and two for 30 respectively, against a Kent side already hindered by injuries to captain Sam Billings and Matt Milnes. 

Jack Leaning and Jordan Cox were the not out batsmen on 19 and one when the umpires brought the players off for bad light with six overs remaining. 

Play began in autumnal conditions at the Spitfire Ground and although Khushi hit the first ball of the day, from Grant Stewart, through midwicket for four to bring up his half century, a soporific hour ensued.  

The contest spluttered to life when Daniel Bell-Drummond, bowling because Milnes was struggling with a back issue, had Critchley caught behind by Ollie Robinson, who was keeping wicket because Billings suffered a groin injury on day one. 

The possibly under-used Bell-Drummond then removed Adam Rossington, caught at cow corner by sub fielder Hamid Qadri for six and Harry Podmore had Shane Snater caught by Matt Quinn for 11, but the torpor returned as Essex advanced slowly to 408 for seven at lunch. 

Khushi reached three figures 40 minutes after the restart, cutting Joe Denly to backward point and leaping in the air as he completed the single, before removing his helmet and kissing the St. Lawrence wicket. 

As Essex went through the gears, Allison reached 50 with a straight driven four off the same bowler, but after passing his previous highest first class score of 52, Denly then bowled him middle stump. 

Khushi took Essex past 500 by hitting Denly back over his head for six and rapidly put on 69 for the ninth wicket with Cook, who made 38 before he holed out to Denly and was caught on the boundary by the sub, Joey Evison. 

The innings finally came to an end when Khushi miscued a drive off Podmore and was caught by Jack Leaning, who held the catch despite a collision with the inrushing Stewart that left him and rolling on the turf in manner that called to mind his lookalike, Bruno Fernandes. 

Kent’s reply began with a questionable hook shot by Ollie Robinson that just eluded two fielders, but Ben Compton had made just two when Jamie Porter bowled him behind his legs, sending his leg stump flying. 

Robinson then cracked Porter to Allison at point and was out for 14, and Bell-Drummond fell to a smart one-handed catch by Rossington off Cook for 18. 

Denly hung around for 45 balls before Cook had him caught behind for 11 but play was abandoned officially at 5.27pm, to the audible relief of the home supporters. 

Essex’s Feroze Kushi said: “I’ve had a couple of good celebrations this year! I kind of pride myself on my celebration. I obviously lay flat thanking God as well, because without Him nothing would happen and without my parents’ hard work this success wouldn’t be possible, so I always keep them in my thoughts. I pride myself on my beliefs as well. It’s very important for me, being a Muslim and a British Pakistani. I’m very thankful and appreciative of my form at the moment. I’m doing quite well and I hope it can continue. 

“This is a really good feeling. In the position we were and obviously with a lot of guys watching it was just nice to get a big one, because a couple I’ve got this year weren’t as big, but this time I kicked on and got 150 plus. I’m still disappointed in how I got out at the end because I pride myself on not giving away my wicket, but I’m just really happy today. 

“I just played my normal self, I didn’t have to do anything differently. I was getting enough bad balls and just putting them away and obviously we lost a couple of quick wickets after Critch went. Benny came in and batted really well and that partnership of a hundred was crucial because it could have been a different game. 

“I felt really positive, I was hitting them nicely and when you hit a few boundaries early doors you build confidence, you feel more comfortable and things just kept flowing. I’m very happy, we played really well and we’re in a very strong position. 

“There are periods in the game when you have to respect the bowling and they have got some good bowlers, so you aren’t going to score as many runs, but that’s not a problem. This is four-day cricket and you’ve got all day to bat, so you just pick off the bad balls and rotate the strike. I pride myself on batting for long periods of time.” 

Kent’s Harry Podmore said: “It’s been tough. We bowled well in patches, but I think we’re all honest enough to know there were more than a couple of overs when we let them off the hook a bit. We beat the bat quite a lot actually with very little reward. 

“When they bowled tonight they had one bowled behind the legs and one caught at point and I think Daniel Bell-Drummond was the only one who got a pretty good nut from Cook, but it’s just one of those games and we’ve got a big job to do tomorrow. 

“I was padded up and ready to go in. It’s been 17 weeks since I bowled more than ten overs so 32 was a bit of a shock to the system. I’m looking forward to going to sleep tonight! We’re all professional cricketers and we’ve all been in situations that haven’t necessarily favoured us so it’s up to us to turn it round and really dig it out. Jack and Jordan enjoy batting together and I know Jack’s hungry to bat for a long time, having been away with The Hundred and not played a game. He’s said he’s happy to be back and playing, so hopefully he capitalises on that.”