Stevens blitz lights up final day
Leicestershire 186 (Stevens 5-39) and 139 for 1 (Eckersley 65*, Smith 65*) drew with Kent 353 for 3 dec. (Nash 128*, Key 106, Stevens 97)
Darren Stevens fell three runs short of the fastest hundred of the season to provide some entertainment on the final day at Tunbridge Wells as Kent were held to a draw by fellow strugglers Leicestershire
Stevens' cameo of 97 in 58-balls followed centuries for Rob Key and Brendan Nash as Kent declared 15 minutes before lunch on 353 for 3, with a first-innings lead of 167 and then claimed the early scalp of Niall O'Brien to give themselves hope of victory in a match where almost a day and a half had been lost lost to rain at Tunbridge Wells
But Leicestershire suffered no further alarms as second-wicket pair Greg Smith and Ned Eckersley made the game safe with an unbroken stand of 128 in the remaining 46.4 overs, both players contributing 65. The players shook hands on a draw at 5pm with 14.2 overs of the game remaining, leaving Kent with 10 points to Leicestershire's four.
Hosts Kent had galloped along at almost 10-an-over in the morning session in a bid to secure a reasonable first-innings advantage, while leaving themselves sufficient time to potentially dismiss the visitors for a second time.
As it was, a flat pitch at The Nevill Ground had the final say as Leicestershire had few problems in batting out the final afternoon in order to secure their sixth draw of the season. For winless Kent, it was a fourth stalemate of a campaign that keeps then rooted to the foot of the Division Two table.
Resuming on their Friday night total of 159 for 1, Kent took the game by its horns in the morning session as Key and Nash extended their second wicket stand to 190 from 55.1 overs.
Key was first to three figures from 181 balls, with six fours, for the 48th hundred of his first-class career. It was his 43rd ton for Kent. He fell soon after, caught at long on off a skier by Ollie Freckingham for 106, after attempting a leg-side clip against offspinner Jigar Naik.
In the pursuit of quick runs, the hosts promoted former Leicestershire allrounder Stevens up to No. 3 and it was a move that reaped rich and attracted rewards as he went within three runs of posting the fastest hundred of the season.
Stevens, who spent the winter playing Twenty20 in the Bangladesh Premier League for Dhaka Gladiators, blasted seven sixes and eight fours for his part in a spectacular stand of 149 in 16.2 overs with Nash.
Nash chipped in with his 186-ball century with 14 boundaries and went on to contribute a couple more sixes in an over by Shiv Thakor that went for 27.
Stevens was on the cusp of hitting a rare hundred before lunch when, in attempting a paddle sweep to fine leg, he was bowled around his legs by Naik prompting Kent's declaration.
Leicestershire lost opener O'Brien to a catch in the slip cordon when on six but Smith and Eckersley dominated centre stage thereafter to leave Kent still in search of their maiden four-day win for 2013.