Kent have it all to do
Kent have it all to do

Kent will have to perform well on the last two days if they are to beat Hampshire in their final Bob Willis Trophy group game after the visitors finished day two with a lead of 129 runs in Canterbury.

After dismissing their visitors for 191 on day one, Kent began the day on 21/2 but lost wickets at regular intervals throughout their innings and were bowed out for 170, 21 runs short of Hampshire’s score.

Harry Podmore and Darren Stevens struck with the new ball for Kent as Hampshire found themselves reeling at 23/5, but an unbroken 85-run partnership between Lewis McManus and Tom Scriven left Sam Northeast’s side in a strong position at stumps at the end of the day.

The hosts started the day on 21/2 from 13 overs with Zak Crawley and night watchman Matt Milnes at the crease after the day one dismissals of Jordan Cox (2) and Daniel Bell-Drummond (16), and it was literally the perfect start for Hampshire and Scott Currie, as Crawley, who scored a test double hundred in his last first class innings, was dismissed LBW without scoring – a huge wicket for the visitors.

Hampshire continued to attack against the new man in Jack Leaning and Milnes (six) soon departed, also dismissed by Currie who took a good catch off his own bowling after Milnes skied one high into the air. His dismissal left Kent in a bit of bother at 30/4 and brought Heino Kuhn to the crease.

Kuhn settled quickly, racing to 10 from five balls as he picked up the first six of the game. His partnership with Leaning seemed to be calming things down for the hosts as the stand made its way into the 30s, but Leaning was dismissed by a Tom Scriven outswinger off the last ball of the 29th over, caught behind, to leave Kent struggling again at 64/5.

Ollie Robinson entered the fray but was soon on his way back to the pavilion for 12, caught at second slip, and Kent were reeling at 76/6 as allrounder Marcus O’Riordan joined Kuhn in the middle at number eight.

Kent went into lunch on 101/6, the seventh wicket partnership between Kuhn and O’Riordan worth 25. It wasn’t long after the interval that Hampshire players were jumping with joy however, as Brad Wheal had Kuhn, the one the visitors wanted, caught at cover by Holland for 34, bringing Darren Stevens to the middle at number nine – a position he hasn’t batted too often in his career.

It wasn’t to be for Stevens though, who, after taking his 800th wicket for Kent and the 29th five-for of his career with the ball on day one, was gone for a duck off the bowling of Holland. Fellow allrounder Grant Stewart was too gone swiftly, caught at square leg for four off Wheal, and Hampshire began to smell blood, needing just one wicket to end the Kent innings with a healthy lead as Harry Podmore went in at number 11.

Kent fans will know that Podmore isn’t one to sit in with the bat, and he began to play shots almost immediately, picking up six fours on his way to a rapid 29, his fourth boundary taking the 11th wicket partnership to 35 – the highest of Kent’s innings.

O’Riordan was eventually LBW to Crane for 37 after a more than handy partnership of 47 with Podmore – who finished 30 not out – and Kent were all out for 170, trailing Hampshire by 21.

Podmore, backing up his form with the bat, came out firing with the ball. He had Holland LBW in his first over for two before Alsop was caught in the slips off an inswinger by the same bowler for four just 10 balls later, and it seemed Podmore was single handedly dragging Kent back into the game.

Darren Stevens joined the party, dismissing former Kent captain Sam Northeast for two, leaving Hampshire 13/3 with a lead of just 34, and tea was taken.

Stevens didn’t wait long to strike after tea. He picked up his second when Felix Organ chopped a ball coming back in onto his stumps, before Zak Crawley dropped Joe Weatherley at second slip off Podmore.

It was the same trio involved not long after when Weatherley was dismissed, however. Podmore with the ball, Weatherley with the edge and Crawley this time took a low catch to see the opener on his way for seven, with Hampshire at a measly 23/5 leading by only 44.

With Hampshire 35/5, first change bowler Grant Stewart almost had McManus’ wicket in his first over, but it was Jack Leaning this time who put a catch down in the slips.

Kent began to toil late in the day as Milnes and Stewart struggled to pin Hampshire down, McManus and Tom Scriven bringing up their 50 partnership and the 100 lead off the duo’s bowling.

Stevens and Podmore came back on late in the day for Kent, but McManus and Scriven ended the day with an unbeaten partnership of 85, the highest of the game, to leave Hampshire in a decent position ahead of day three, leading Kent by 129 runs with five wickets remaining.

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