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July 8, 2014
Leicestershire 217 and 87 for 3 (Smith 42*) lead Kent 302 (Claydon 77, Stevens 57, Buck 4-97) by 2 runs
Mitchell Claydon continued to be a thorn in Leicestershire's side as he clubbed a career-best 77 to put Kent into a strong position at the end of the second day at Grace Road.
Claydon, who took 5 for 77 with the ball on the first day, led a tail-end recovery that took Kent to a total of 302 and a first-innings lead of 85. Then, former Leicestershire favourite Darren Stevens followed up a half-century of his own with two early wickets to leave the home side on 87 for 3 - a lead of just two runs - when bad light brought an premature end.
Stevens, opening the bowling with his military medium pace, still moved the ball around enough to trap both Angus Robson and Ned Eckersley lbw in his first three overs. Adam Ball then had Dan Redfern caught behind and at 35 for 3 Leicestershire were in dire straits. But an unbeaten stand of 52 between opener Greg Smith, who made 42, and Josh Cobb, 17, gave Leicestershire a foothold back into the game.
The hosts looked to be in the box seat at the start of play with Kent on 106 for 5, still 111 runs behind, but in little over half an hour there was a massive momentum change. Stevens and Ball tucked into some wayward bowling from Charlie Shreck and Nathan Buck, neither of whom could settle into a consistent line or length. Between them they conceded 59 runs in the first 10 overs, 46 of them in boundaries.
But Buck finally did find the perfect delivery to knock back Ball's off stump when he had made 36 out of a sixth-wicket stand of 92 in 22 overs.
It sparked a purple patch for the Leicestershire paceman and two more more wickets followed in his next three overs. Sam Billings was out lbw playing across the line and Stevens caught down the leg side by wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien for 57 having reached his half-century off 61 balls with eight fours and a six.
But if Leicestershire believed the hard work was done with Kent at 207 for 8, they were sadly mistaken. The last two wickets added 95 runs as Claydon launched a ferocious assault on some poor bowling, battering 14 fours and a six on his way to 77 off 91 balls, before being bowled by Rob Taylor.
Claydon and Adam Riley shared a last-wicket partnership of 67 that took Kent past the 300 mark to a third batting point. Buck was the best of Leicestershire's attack finishing with four for 97 off 26 overs.
But, not for the first time this season, Leicestershire will be wondering how they let a promising position slip from their grasp.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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