Key falls short of ton but steers Kent to safety
Kent 219 and 255 for 6 drew with Leicestershire 257 and 289 for 9 dec
Kent captain Rob Key fell two runs short of a century as the County Championship Division Two match against Leicestershire ended in a draw at Grace Road.
Set a target of 332 Kent looked to be on course for victory when they cruised to 184 for 2. But they then lost three wickets for two runs in five balls, with Key bowled for 98 by Wayne White.
The paceman then dismissed Geraint Jones with his next delivery and when Darren Stevens was out to a catch in the deep Leicestershire's own chances of winning looked to have been boosted. But the two teams somewhat surprisingly shook hands on a draw with eight overs remaining with Kent, on 255 for 6, still needing another 77 runs.
Leicestershire resumed the final day on 227 for 5, leading by 265 and looking for quick runs in order to set Kent a target. Tom New and Shiv Thakor took their sixth-wicket stand to 100 in 29 overs before 17-year-old Thakor was caught at gully off Azhar Mahmood for 34.
New followed having made 76 off 101 balls with 10 boundaries. He was trapped lbw by the same bowler with a delivery that kept low. Mahmood also claimed the wickets of Jigar Naik and Claude Henderson and Leicestershire declared on 289 for 9, leaving Kent 332 to win in 75 overs. Mahmood finished with 4 for 42.
Although Kent lost opener Joe Denly who was bowled by a fine delivery from Alex Wyatt with the total on 32, the visitors made good progress with Key playing a captain's role.
He looked assured and confident, using the sweep shot to great effect against Leicestershire's spinners. The Kent captain reached his 50 off 74 balls with six boundaries plus a six off Henderson and shared a stand of 82 in 20 overs with Sam Northeast.
But Northeast was out with the total on 113, lbw to Naik, leaving Martin van Jaarsveld to join Key in another useful partnership for the third wicket. Their stand put on 71 in 19 overs but van Jaarsveld's dismissal by Henderson triggered the loss of three quick wickets in five deliveries.
Key could hardly believe it when he was bowled off stump by White as he tried to work the ball away on leg side, having made 98 off 153 balls with 12 fours and a six.
Mahmood hit an unbeaten 46 but in the end the teams settled on a draw with neither side gaining an edge ahead of once again facing each other in a T20 quarter-final at Grace Road tomorrow.