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Hampshire take charge at Canterbury
Hampshire take charge at Canterbury

A blistering century from James Vince put Hampshire in charge of their LV= Insurance County Championship match with Kent at Canterbury.

Hampshire were 337 for four at stumps on day two, a lead of 32, after Vince made 111 from 117 balls, including 19 fours. Nick Gubbins was the next highest scorer with 69, while Liam Dawson is unbeaten on 63.

Kent’s Nathan Gilchrist took three for 71, but it was a day to forget for the hosts, who were bowled out for 305, Keith Barker claiming six for 52 and Mohammad Abbas three for 57.

Conditions were cloudy and windy when Kent resumed on 271 for seven, and Barker completed his five-wicket haul when he had Darren Stevens caught behind for 23. Stevens looked underwhelmed by the decision and a loud thud could be heard from the direction of the pavilion shortly afterwards.

Gilchrist lasted six balls before falling in identical fashion in Barker’s next over, without scoring, and Jackson Bird was caught off Abbas by sub fielder James Fuller for two, but not before Hamid Qadri had made 23 not out, adding 21 useful runs to his overnight score.

Kent’s hopes that 305 might prove a tricky total eroded steadily through the rest of the day. Hampshire moved to 47 for one at lunch, losing only Joe Weatherley, who’d pulled Matt Milnes for a six, but was then caught behind for 18 when the same bowler found his inside edge.

Despite losing Ian Holland lbw to Nathan Gilchrist for 25, Hampshire dominated the afternoon session, Vince beating Gubbins in the race to 50 when he nudged Hamid Qadri for a single in the 36th over. With Kent unable to stem the tide of boundaries, Gubbins passed the same landmark in the next over when he drove Milnes for four, but he was out when he edged Gilchrist to Jordan Cox, who took a tricky catch at slip, ending a stand of 136.

The visitors scored 172 runs in the session and continued their onslaught after tea. Dawson pulled the second ball of the evening session, off Bird for six. Vince clipped Stevens for a single to bring up his century, off 99 balls and although he eventually edged Gilchrist to Cox, Dawson kept up the scoring rate. He drove Milnes for two to reach his half-century and Ben Brown hit Stevens for four through the covers to give Hampshire the lead with the first ball of the 72nd over.

Brown looked equally comfortable and had reached 42 not out when play was abandoned for bad light, with three scheduled overs remaining and Gilchrist poised to take the new ball.

Hampshire’s Nick Gubbins said: “It was a really good day for the boys, it started off with the bowlers getting those three wickets early in the morning and we took that momentum into our batting. It was really nice to see some good partnerships out there. It’s quite a high-scoring ground and the wicket’s pretty good as well. We’ve been pretty positive all year with the bat.

“Vince is an absolute pleasure to bat with, he puts pressure on the bowlers and he was unbelievable today. I’m really happy for him. It was nice to make a contribution, I’ve felt pretty good all year and it was nice to see guys making contributions all the way down the order.

“Credit has to go to our bowlers (for limiting Kent.) You saw how easy it was to score today when the ball gets old so to keep them to 305 was superb from our seamers.”

Kent’s Matt Walker said: “We started ok, bowled quite well for the first ten overs or so and threatened nicely, then the wheels sort of came off in that second session. 172 runs and 30 odd boundaries is well below our standard. They know that. We just couldn’t get our lengths right and couldn’t get our lines right. We just didn’t really have an answer.

“Barker and Abbas just stayed in the channel and that was our plan, we just didn’t get it right. Certainly in that middle session we didn’t create any pressure at all, there were too many leak balls. From 230 for three to be 305 all out is another frustrating collapse. It’s deja vu from last year really.

“We get ourselves in a pretty good position, somebody plays pretty well and a partnership forms, we look in control and all of a sudden we have a session when we disintegrate. We were aiming for 400 plus at one stage, so to just scrape past 300 we knew we were probably going to be short.”