Kent wrap-up second successive victory
Kent 242 and 332 beat Middlesex 303 and 202 by 69 runs
Kent won their second successive County Championship match in Canterbury and dented the promotion push of second-placed Middlesex by claiming a battling 69-run victory on the final afternoon at St Lawrence.
The hosts wrapped up their fourth win of the Division Two campaign three overs into the final hour of the game to bank 20 points, while Middlesex went home with six after suffering only their second defeat of the summer.
Having taken Kent's four remaining second-innings wickets at the start of the day to dismiss the hosts for 332 - their second highest championship total at Canterbury this season - Middlesex were left with 80 overs to chase a victory target of 272 at an asking rate of 3.38 an over. Yet survival quickly became a more realistic ambition for the visitors after they slumped to 30 for four shortly after lunch.
Matt Coles, taking the new ball for the first time in a year, started the rout with one that cut back off the seam to graze Scott Newman's inside edge before plucking out off stump. Then, four scheduled deliveries before the lunch break, Stevens swung one away from Sam Robson to have the right-hander caught at second slip for 12.
With his first delivery after the interval Stevens feathered the outside edge of Dawid Malan's bat to give wicket-keeper Geraint Jones a regulation catch. Then, two balls later, Neil Dexter's dire run of form continued with a third successive championship duck when he edged to second slip.
Only 21 runs on, Chris Rogers - in aiming to work to leg - played all around a Stevens' in-swinger to go for 26, and with 100 on the board, John Simpson (19) fenced at the second delivery of the innings from Wahab Riaz to be caught behind.
Jamie Dalrymple and Tom Smith (seven) dug in to add 48 in 20 overs for the seventh wicket, but soon after tea, and with 124 runs required, Adam Ball broke through and emulated Stevens by taking two wickets in as many balls.
Smith followed one outside off to edge low to third slip, then Tim Murtagh had his off stump pegged back by a first-ball yorker. Dalrymple farmed the strike intelligently to reach a 150-ball century - the first of the match - with 10 fours and two sixes.
Steven Finn departed two overs later after allowing one from James Tredwell to squeeze through bat and pad and roll onto the stumps, then the off-spinner rushed one through Corey Colleymore's back-foot defensive push to wrap up the win shortly after 5.30pm.
The fourth day began with a high-class exhibition of new ball bowling by Finn who, after being released from the England squad on duty at the Oval, joined the game on day two to claim an eventual haul of five for 113. The willowy paceman accounted for James Tredwell with his fourth ball of the day, and with the first delivery of his next over sent Ball packing to another catch at the wicket.
Murtagh then extracted extra bounce to graze the edge of Matthew Coles' bat and give keeper Simpson his third catch of the session and sixth of the game. Eight runs short of a deserved hundred, Azhar Mahmood lost his 10th wicket partner and countryman, Wahab Riaz, pinned leg before by a shooting off-cutter by Murtagh to leave Mahmood unbeaten on 92 from 140 balls. He hit eight fours and two sixes.