Stevens and Key punish Leics
Kent 159 for 1 (Key 81*) trail Leicestershire 186 (Stevens 5-39) by 27 runs
A five-wicket haul by former Foxes favourite Darren Stevens coupled with an unbroken second-wicket stand of 144 between Rob Key and Brendan Nash maintained Kent's grip on their rain-ruined Division Two clash with Leicestershire. Kent will go into the final day at Tunbridge Wells on 159 for 1, a first innings deficit of just 27, and with Key and Nash well placed on 81 and 65 respectively.
The visitors snared Daniel Bell-Drummond lbw through an Ollie Freckingham offcutter but Josh Cobb's side were otherwise left cursing their luck after missing two gilt-edged opportunities in the mid-session. With Nash on 12, Freckingham rearranged the left-hander's stumps only to hear the umpire's call for a no-ball then, with the total on 58 and with Key on 31, Joe Burns spurned a regulation chance at first slip off the bowling of Shiv Thakor.
Having posted his 104-ball 50 with nine fours, Key, the former Kent skipper, became only the 17th batsman in Kent's history to pass 15,000 runs for the county when reaching 58. Nash also posted a half-century with nine fours - the ex-West Indies Test bat reaching the milestone with a swept four against Jigar Naik and having faced 117 balls.
Kent's two unbeaten batsmen marched off in the best conditions of the match at 6pm, leaving disgruntled supporters to bring into question the Championship playing conditions. While in Test matches any day's play can be extended for 30 minutes to partially make amends for rain delays, Championship rules do not allow for time lost to rain on subsequent days to be made good despite the loss of 169 overs on the opening two days here.
Having suffered a second-day washout, Leicestershire, resuming on their first day total of 74 for 4, were unable to secure a single batting bonus point as they were dismissed for 186 on a pitch freshened by Thursday's showers. The visitors added only 112 in 40 overs as the Kent seamers enjoyed regular success and none more so than Stevens, who bagged 5 for 39 - his first five-wicket haul of the summer - against his former employers.
With the visitors score on 111 it was Stevens, bowling at the Nevill Ground's Railway End, who started Leicestershire's slide with the scalp of Thakor (30), caught low down in the gully by Ben Harmison from a miscued cut. Matthew Boyce then shouldered arms to a Calum Haggett offcutter that pegged back off stump and Cobb departed lbw after an ill-advised and ultimately one-handed flail across the line.
Freckingham sparred at a Charlie Shreck lifter only to spoon a catch to Bell-Drummond low at midwicket and Jigar Naik gave Shreck a haul of 3 54 when he feathered one to second slip. Last man Robbie Williams added a dozen to the total before he too edged to second slip to give Stevens the third five-wicket haul of his 207-match first-class career.