KSN are proud to support:

Kent facing final day battle
Kent facing final day battle

Kent fought back on day three of their Vitality County Championship derby with Essex on Canterbury, surviving till the final over of the day before they were after being bowled out for 349.

Joe Denly 87 hit and Harry Finch 85 to boost the hosts’ chances of batting out a draw after they were dominated on the first two days.

Matt Critchley took five for 88, but Essex laboured without Sam Cook, who’d pulled up injured on day two.

The hosts’ morale had taken a battering on day two and they’d closed on 118 for four, still 473 in arrears, but they weren’t about to surrender without a fight.

Conditions were blustery and overcast at 11 am but the forecast rain failed to materialise and Denly and nightwatcher Matt Parkinson batted through the entire morning session.

There were occasional alarms, such as when Dean Elgar couldn’t cling on to a violently drive from Parkinson when he was on 31, but the spinner passed his previous first-class best of 39 with a single off Harmer and had made it to 45 at lunch, at which point Kent were 203 for four.

Denly then drove Snater for four to bring up his fifty, but Parkinson was denied a maiden red-ball 50 when Jamie Porter trapped him lbw.

Finch was on four when he pulled Beard to the boundary, but Critchley couldn’t pull off a tumbling catch and the drop proved expensive.

The only other wicket to fall in the session came when Denly, who looked destined for a century, misjudged a Critchley delivery and was caught by Aaron Beard at long on.

Successive byes from Critchley allowed Kent to get a third bonus point with four balls to spare in the 110th over and it was 302 for six at tea.

Finch glanced Beard for four to bring up his half-century and as the evening session dragged on Essex’s increasing frustration started to show with an embarrassing appeal for a catch against Joey Evison from a ball that had clearly been driven into the ground.

They finally broke through when Evison tried to sweep Tom Westley and was bowled for 29. Westley then had Finch lbw and with Wes Agar hurt after injuring his shoulder on day one Arafat Bhuiyan was sent out with Kent still 78 runs short of the follow on target and six overs remaining.

Grant Stewart played conservatively by his standards, but still managed to dump Westley for six over cow corner, only for Critchley to bowl Bhuiyan at 5.45pm, with two scheduled overs remaining.

Agar duly walked out needing to survive for three minutes to spare Kent an awkward over following on and he duly blocked out five balls to at least spare the hosts the dilemma of weather or not to send in a nightwatcher to open.

With the field in, Stewart then blasted Harmer for six in the day’s penultimate over, but Critchley pinned Agar lbw with the first ball of the last over, to set up a potentially fascinating final day.

Essex’s Matt Critchley said: “It was nice to get into a position we wanted to be in by the end of the day. Obviously it was pretty tough work out there, it’s a pretty slow wicket but we’re in a position, 200 ahead to take 10 wickets on the final day and hopefully we get that done.

“It was nice to get a long bowl for once. I hope Sammy (Cook) is all right but we probably knew it was going to be hard work here with how we selected the team and one of our best bowlers going down like that wasn’t ideal but yeah, we got through the overs pretty quickly.

“I think they played pretty well to be fair but the weight of runs we got in the first innings and Tommy giving himself a bowl and breaking those partnerships has given us a chance to win.

(On dropping Harry Finch)

“It wasn’t ideal and I wish I’d caught it but thankfully Tommy got him out before he got to a hundred and affected it too much.

“Attacking probably looks a little bit different on that wicket than when you’d normally have three or four slips in and men around the bat. It might be about trying to be patient and just create ten chances throughout the day. We can’t really control the weather but hopefully it’s cloudy and swings about a bit. The seamers actually bowled really well, especially Aaron Beard and he was pretty unlucky. I owe him a bit after dropping that one, but hopefully they’ll get a some assistance on the final day, maybe a bit of variable bounce and hopefully we’ll get the job done.

(On hearing about Surrey’s defeat)

“We want to concentrate on what we do but at the same time the more games Surrey lose the more we can hopefully gain an advantage in trying to win the league this year.”

Kent’s Joe Denly said “It wasn’t too bad a day, on a surface that was quite nice for batting. They’ve obviously got two very good spinners and it was challenging at times, that’s for sure but I think to bat through the day and get 190 behind them going into day four on a pretty good surface, we’re backing ourselves and feeling confident coming back in tomorrow, assuming we follow on, and batting out the day.

“It started with myself and Parky this morning. We had a great little contribution from him, he works hard at his batting and it was great fun to bat with him, he loves getting into a scrap as well. Harry came in and played beautifully it’s just a shame one of us couldn’t get in and get a big one.”

“They will come hard and Surrey are going to potentially lose at Hampshire so they’ll be keen to win the game. They’ll be quite attacking but that will potentially create scoring opportunities for us and like I say, it’s a pretty good pitch to bat on when you get in, so it’s a good chance for a few of us to get in and get some good scores.

(On his form)

“It’s been good fun, it’s always nice to score runs and get a bit of consistency but as always I’d like to really kick on and get some really big scores and match-winning contributions. It’s a little bit frustrating not to have kicked on, I fell like I’ve left quite a few runs out there actually, so I’m hungry to put that right.”