Coles burst halts Middlesex progress
Middlesex 258 for 7 v Kent 242
An impressive three-wicket burst by Kent all-rounder Matt Coles halted Middlesex progress and left honours pretty much even at the mid-point of the County Championship Division Two clash in Canterbury.
When drizzle and bad light reached the St Lawrence ground at 4.15pm the visitors had stumbled to 258 for seven - an overall advantage of only 16 runs as they replied to the home side's 242. Sitting pretty at 99 without loss and then looking good at 147 for 1, Middlesex struggled throughout an overcast mid-session when Kent skipper Rob Key finally allowed Coles off the leash.
Key used five bowlers in a fairly turgid first session that saw Middlesex add 104 for two wickets, and Cole was not amongst them. Having posted 34 Scott Newman tossed away his wicket when he flailed outside off stump against Wahab Riaz to be caught low down at slip.
Chris Rogers, having scored an impeccable 28, charged down the wicket to Darren Stevens only to slice a drive to Azhar Mahmood in the gully. Middlesex started to regroup after lunch through Australian Sam Robson, strong off the back foot, and the elegant Dawid Malan, who curbed his attacking instincts to hold the innings together.
They added 57 without trouble until Key finally introduced Coles soon after 2pm to reap havoc as the visitors lost four for five in the space of 31 balls. Robson's near three hour stay was ended when he nicked a quick ball to the keeper then former Kent all-rounder Neil Dexter prodded forward to the next delivery from Coles to go without troubling the scorers.
Five runs on off-spinner James Tredwell followed Coles' lead by also taking two wickets in as many deliveries. He had Jamie Dalrymple caught bat-pad at backward short leg and then snared John Simpson for a golden duck, leg before to an arm-ball.
Coles then returned to skittle Tom Smith for 13 with a swinging yorker that proved just too quick for the young right-hander and made it 238 for seven.
After another short delay for rain an unusually watchful Malan ploughed on for a shade over two hours for a 108 ball half-century and was still there when bad light forced an early finish.