KSN are proud to support:

Kent facing defeat at Canterbury
Kent facing defeat at Canterbury

Hampshire are in sight of a heavy victory over Kent in their LV= Insurance County Championship match at Canterbury, having reduced the hosts to 78 for three at stumps on day three, still needing another 269 to avoid an innings defeat.

Hampshire declared on 652 for six at tea, a lead of 347, on a day when the home side laboured throughout.

Liam Dawson hit his highest first class score of 171, from 268 balls with three sixes and 20 fours, while Ben Brown hit 157 from 198 balls with 15 fours, as the duo put on Hampshire record partnership of 273 for the fifth wicket.

Kyle Abbott took two for nine in Kent’s second innings, removing both Zak Crawley and Daniel Bell-Drummond in the space of four balls, while Felix Organ, who has one for seven bowled Tawanda Muyeye, leaving Kent hoping for some last day heroics from Ben Compton, who was unbeaten on 37 at stumps. Jordan Cox is the other not out batsman on three.

“It’s going to be a long, old struggle from here,” a Kent member said, with some understatement, during the tea interval, having witnessed the home side get pummelled for the first two sessions.

Hampshire had resumed on 337 for four and although Kent were able to take the new ball they began day three as they’d finished day two, bowling a buffet delivery every time it looked like they might build some pressure: after a maiden from Matt Milnes, Dawson took 13 from Nathan Gilchrist’s next over.

Brown carved Milnes for four to reach 50 and Dawson straight drove the same bowler to reach three figures before the first hour was up. Hampshire were 337 for four at lunch, already 152 ahead, and when Ollie Robinson dropped Dawson off Hamid Qadri in the first over after the resumption it set the tone for the rest of the afternoon session.

Dawson cracked Qadri for six in his next over and landmarks and records were duly ticked off with an almost casual ease. Brown reached his century with a glanced three off Qadri. Dawson brought up his 150 cutting the same bowler to point for four and then beat his previous highest first-class score of 169 when he paddled Darren Stevens to the fine leg boundary.

He finally holed out to Tawanda Muyeye and was caught by Jordan Cox and Muyeye then claimed a second wicket when Brown tried to reverse sweep him and he was caught by Gilchrist, but there was no relief for the hosts. Felix Organ and Keith Barker scored freely, both reaching 44 not out at tea.

Crawley and Compton batted well for the first hour of the evening session, but after 15 overs of resistance when they offered hardly any chances, Abbott got Crawley lbw for 29 and Bell-Drummond for a duck when he swished him to Organ at mid-off.

Muyeye was then bowled by Organ for three and although Compton and Cox survived to stumps, Hampshire remain heavy favourites going into to day four.

Hampshire’s Ben Brown said: “It’s been a pretty special day, it was amazing. We were told we’d broken the record (for a fifth-wicket partnership). Dawson played incredibly well, he really got going quite quickly this morning which allowed me to settle in and we dovetailed quite nicely. We scored quickly throughout the day and it set us up nicely for tonight and gave us a bit of a time to get those three wickets.

“It’s a good pitch, it’s a bit slow. We owe so much to the bowlers in the first innings, especially for Barker to bowl them out on that wicket was an incredible effort. It takes pressure off us batters. Vince played incredibly well yesterday and that made it easier for the middle order. We were lucky to cash in.

“I think there’s just enough happening now, we’ve seen a few balls go a little bit low, the ball spinning out of some footmarks and rough for the spinner, so hopefully there’s enough to take seven wickets. We didn’t get it quite right, they played some good shots and the new ball flew about a bit, but I think with this bowling attack you just know somebody’s going to stand up.

“Abbott bowled a fantastic spell there, he just nibbled it either way and probably could have three or four but those two wickets really changed the momentum and then Felix produced almost like the perfect ball from an off-spinner. It spun a mile through the gate and clipped the off stump.”

Kent’s Simon Cook said: “It was a tough day if you look at the scoreboard. It’s a decent wicket and we had a discussion in the dressing room yesterday about how to go about bowling on these sorts of pitches. These are pitches that are a bit unusual for here, traditionally they’ve gone around a little bit and it does take a different way and a different style of bowling. It’s something we’ve got to adapt to very quickly.

“Where we want to get to, as a ground, is to produce better cricket wickets and on the way to that we’re going to come across some pitches like this. It’s about learning how to bat on them and learning how to bowl on them, how to contain a run rate, how to contain a side.

“When you get into an innings like that you find it very difficult to contain a run rate. The day extends out, it becomes very difficult to bowl and morale drops because you don’t feel you’re ever in the game.”