Ball keeps match in the balance
Leicestershire 257 and 148 for 5 v Kent 219
A devastating spell from Kent's left-arm seamer Adam Ball left their County Championship Division Two game against fellow strugglers Leicestershire finely poised at Grace Road. Ball took 3 for 14 in 7.2 overs as Leicestershire slipped from 126 for 2 to 148 for 5 to lead by 186 runs at the close of the second day.
Earlier in the day Leicestershire offspinner Jigar Naik also produced an eye-catching performance with figures of 5 for 34 as Kent lost their last seven wickets for 58 runs, slumping to 219 all out to hand Leicestershire a first-innings lead of 38.
The hosts then looked to be moving into a commanding position, with Will Jefferson and Matt Boyce sharing their second half-century opening partnership of the game. They put on 72 in 25 overs before off-spinner James Tredwell bowled Jefferson for 37 as the batsman tried to work the ball away on the leg side.
Then Tredwell trapped Greg Smith lbw before Ball was brought into the attack and rapidly turned the match in Kent's favour again. He first had Boyce caught behind two runs short of a half-century and then removed Josh Cobb in the same fashion as the youngster went for an ambitious drive outside the off stump.
Ball struck again with what proved to be the last ball of the day, having Wayne White lbw for 14 to dampen Leicestershire's hopes of achieving their first Championship win since the opening match of the season against Northamptonshire.
Kent, who began the day at 47 for 3, had a good pre-lunch session with Martin van Jaarsveld and Darren Stevens sharing a fourth-wicket stand of 114 in 29 overs. They both enjoyed plenty of good fortune in the first hour of the day, with Stevens dropped at slip and several other shots flying through the cordon to the boundary.
Both reached their half-centuries, with Stevens making it off just 60 balls and hitting 11 fours before finally edging Naik to slip shortly before lunch having made 67.
But the afternoon session went Leicestershire's way, with Naik the star performer. He picked up the big wicket of van Jaarsveld, who was also caught at slip, and then added the scalps of Tredwell, Ball and Geraint Jones to the list to claim his second five-wicket haul of the season.
Nathan Buck also returned to something like his best form, picking up 3 for 49, with Kent's last six wickets going down for 43 runs in nine overs.