Injury-hit Kent facing defeat
Kent 208 and 52 for 2 v Gloucestershire 206 and 292
Rain and bad light prevented a gaggle of hardy Kent supporters from suffering further punishment in Canterbury where the hosts are facing County Championship defeat to Division Two rivals Gloucestershire in their opening home game of the summer.
With chilly winds sweeping clouds of concrete dust from the redevelopment site across the ground and spectator seating areas, barely a couple of hundred fans stayed until the bitter end at 5.30pm, when the umpires took the sides off for rain and bad light with Kent struggling on 52 for 2.
Having been set a daunting 291 for victory after Gloucestershire were dismissed for 206 second time around, Kent lost their skipper Rob Key (11) in the ninth over of the reply then Sam Northeast for 34 to the last ball before the first rain in three weeks arrived at the St Lawrence ground.
With Joe Denly out of the match with a fractured thumb and Robbie Joseph hampered by a quad muscle strain, the home side are effectively four down going into the final day and need a further 239 to force an unlikely win.
With the odds already stacked against him, Key received a beauty from Jonathan Lewis that feathered the edge through to wicketkeeper Jonathan Batty to make it 31 for 1. Then, 12 overs from the scheduled close, Northeast's uncomfortable 76-minute stay ended when he attempted to flick one from Ian Saxelby that sailed wide down the leg side only to find an edge through to Batty. The dismissal just about summed up Kent's fortune during a game Gloucestershire have controlled for long periods.
The visitors resumed at the start of day on their overnight score of 40 for 1 but lost four wickets by lunch, all caught behind, to give Kent some hope of turning the course of events. Hamish Marshall (30) edged a bouncing delivery from Simon Cook to the keeper, then Chris Taylor and Richard Coughtrie followed suit for 0 and 20 respectively.
Alex Gidman (23) was also caught by Kent's keeper to give teenager Adam Ball a maiden first-class wicket on his championship debut, but only after an ugly smear by Gidman skied high to short fine-leg.
Gloucestershire worked harder for their runs in the afternoon session and although Kent's attack kept chipping away, their eventual target crept ever nearer 300 as Batty (19), Will Gidman (34) and Saxelby (34 not out) all made valuable contributions.
James Tredwell snaffled a spectacular return catch to account for Gidman then Azhar Mahmood returned to wrap up the innings and finish with 4 for 56, the best figures of the game to date, but Gloucestershire remain firm favourites to chalk up their second win of the second division campaign.