Gloucestershire v Kent, Bristol, 3rd day May 20, 2014

Gloucestershire close in on huge victory

Press Association

Kent 114 (Will Gidman 4-14, Fuller 4-32) and 165 for 5 (Harmison 66*, Billings 51*) require another 417 runs to beat Gloucestershire 252 and 443 for 6 dec (Marshall 118, Alex Gidman 85, Howell 63*)

Gloucestershire were closing in on a first Division Two win of the season at Bristol after setting Kent a target of 582 for victory on day three.

Kent were trailing by 417 runs on 165 for 5 at stumps after Gloucestershire declared on 443 for 6 and then took a flurry of early wickets in the visitors' reply.

But Ben Harmison (66 not out) and Sam Billings (51no) put on a 96-run partnership for the fifth wicket to frustrate Gloucestershire and take the contest into a final day.

Resuming overnight on 213 for 4 - a lead of 351 runs - Gloucestershire swiftly set about adding to their total, moving to 279 in 12 overs of play.

Gareth Roderick fell leg before wicket to Darren Stevens for 85 from 95 balls and Stevens took his fifth wicket in his next over when he bowled Hamish Marshall for 118, leaving Gloucestershire 351 for 6.

The New Zealander had exceeded Kent's first-innings total of 114 on his own and Benny Howell then blasted an unbeaten 63 off 37 balls, with Will Gidman 39 not out when Gloucestershire called a halt to their innings.

Kent's survival mission did not start well as four wickets fell in the first 20 overs.

Captain Rob Key fell for three, caught by Chris Dent, and Brendan Nash followed for nine, caught by Howell, to give Gidman two early wickets while Ben Drummond was out lbw to James Fuller for nought.

That left Kent on 24 for 3 and though Sam Northeast and Harmison set about steadying the crumbling innings, the opener was lbw to Tom Smith in the 20th over.

At 47 for 4, Kent were struggling to take the contest into a fourth and final day but Harmison was joined by Stevens and the pair survived until tea with Kent at 63 for 4, trailing by 518 runs.

Stevens soon became Gidman's third victim for 10, caught behind by substitute Cameron Herring - who was permitted to keep wicket in place of the injured Roderick.

Harmison continued the visitors' resistance in the final session, reaching his half-century off 83 balls with Kent having recovered to 113 for 5.

Sam Billings also reached his fifty as the pair closed in on their century partnership at stumps after 56 overs of play. Gidman had figures of 3 for 39, which had at one stage read 3 for 7.

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  • Mark on May 21, 2014, 7:15 GMT

    With five sessions to go and the weather forecast improving by the hour, I was particularly perturbed that one "expert" was getting bored and saying that rain was going to wash out any chance of a result. This is not T20, it is 4-day cricket and is meant to be played like Tests in which you hammer down the opposition until their will to resist has gone.

    On a flat pitch Michael Klinger did exactly the right thing and was rewarded by a top order that was still in shell-shock, giving away its wickets. Harmison and Billings have showed that there is nothing wrong with the pitch and that had Gloucs pulled out at 400 they could easily have lost, as they did last year.

    Top marks to Klinger for the declaration and to the bowlers for backing him up. Now, having managed to fail to defend over 400 against Surrey, let's close this one out.

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