Stevens double ends Lancashire's unbeaten run
Kent 260 (Key 134, Harmison 59) and 418 for 8 (Stevens 205*, Northeast 70, Ball 69) beat Lancashire 284 (Prince 134) and 393 for 5 dec (Prince 108, Horton 106, Agathangelou 51) by two wickets
Darren Stevens hit a sumptuous unbeaten 205 to edge Kent over the line for a two-wicket Championship win and condemn champions Lancashire to their first defeat of the campaign. Chasing an improbable 418 for victory, Kent eased home with 14.2 overs to spare to record their maiden win on Kentish soil this summer and the second-highest successful fourth-innings pursuit in the club's first-class history.
Stevens, who faces an ICC hearing in the new year for failing to report an illegal approach during this year's Bangladesh Premier League campaign, proved unstoppable to a Lancashire attack without their three leading wicket-takers. Stevens' 218-ball innings included 21 fours and three sixes and was his fourth three-figure score in the Championship this year - and it helped Kent avoid an unwanted record of not securing a Championship win at home.
Resuming on their overnight total of 32 for 1 - which was effectively two wickets down after Rob Key fractured his left thumb whilst in the field on day three - their position soon worsened when they lost Brendan Nash to the ninth ball of the day, caught behind after an attempted push-drive against Kyle Jarvis to make it 39 for 2.
Five overs later Kent's second top-scorer of the first innings Ben Harmison went back only to offer no shot to a Tom Smith offcutter that trapped him leg before.
With little to lose, Sam Northeast went for his shots to post an attractive 54-ball 50 full of rasping drives and with eight fours. Stevens, Kent's player of the season, marched in to follow Northeast's lead as the fourth-wicket pair added an eye-catching 82 in 17.1 overs before Northeast (70) was trapped leg-before on the back-foot by a Luke Procter inswinger.
Stevens reached a 60-ball 50 before lunch and moved through the gears after the break to add 71 in 17.1 overs with Sam Billings (24) before the understudy keeper edged a back-foot drive against Smith to be caught behind.
Adam Ball, playing only his second game of the season, joined forces with Stevens and notched a career-best 69 as the pair posted 148 in 34.2 overs for the sixth wicket. Having reached a 55-ball 50, his first in Championship cricket, Ball perished to the second new ball, leg-before when playing back in defence to Smith.
Home skipper James Tredwell went soon after when nudging one to second slip off Oliver Newby and the alarm bells rang for Kent supporters when Mark Davies followed without scoring when Newby trapped him lbw on the back foot. The injured Key then sidled in to add a vital three runs from 11 balls, allowing Stevens to hit the winning boundary off Newby.