Mahmood five seals Kent victory
Kent 420 and 135 beat Essex 279 and 177 by 99 runs
While Pakistan were being humbled at Trent Bridge, one of their former one-day stars Azhar Mahmood continued to roll back the years with a match-winning performance for Kent over Essex.
The 35-year-old allrounder from Islamabad ran through the Essex middle order with a season's best haul of 5 for 62 that clinched his county's 99-run win shortly after 3pm on the fourth and final day.
Essex, in pursuit of their last day victory target of 277, were ultimately skittled for 177 to drop uncomfortably close to the relegation places after this their third defeat of the campaign. Resuming on their overnight score of 48 for 1, Essex suffered two early casualties when Amjad Khan had Tom Westley (25) caught in the slip cordon then Mahmood nipped one through Jaik Mickleburgh's gate to peg back middle stump.
The visitors re-grouped soundly through fourth-wicket partners Matt Walker and Ravi Bopara, neither of whom appeared in much trouble as they took the score on to 120. Bopara moved into the 30s with a rasping cover drive against Simon Cook who responded by inviting his wicketkeeper Geraint Jones to stand up to the stumps and help create some pressure. The move paid almost immediate dividends as Bopara toppled off balance after missing a leg-cutter to be brilliantly stumped by Jones.
Soon after lunch Matt Walker was bamboozled and palpably leg before to a Mahmood in-ducker, then James Foster ran himself out when attempting a risky single to Rob Key at mid-on. Mahmood bagged two more for his five-wicket haul, leaving James Tredwell to polish the job off with 2 for 40 as Essex lost their last seven wickets for 57 runs to gift Kent their first home win of the season with a session and a half to spare.
"It was a must win game for us," said Mahmood after the maximum points victory that lifts Kent to sixth in the Division One table. "We didn't make the most of our good position on the opening day when we really failed to cash in with the bat on a good pitch, but we were lucky to have overcast conditions for the last three days and that really helped us to swing the ball.
"We watched Matthew Walker take three wickets for them on the third day and that really gave us the confidence to go out there and do better. We just needed to bowl in the channel and give them nowhere to go and it paid off."
Mark Pennell is the managing director of freelance reporting and public relations agency Kent & Sussex Sport