Bandara lifts Kent in relegation clash
Kent 15 for 1 v Hampshire 204
Kent captain Rob Key praised the character of Sri Lankan Malinga Bandara after the under fire wrist-spinner bagged season's best figures of four for 42 to help skittle Hampshire for 204. In a must win game for both these relegation threatened sides, Kent lost opening batsman Sam Northeast for a third ball duck in reply but will go into day two on 15 for 1, trailing by 189.
Bravely batting first despite heavy overnight rain in Canterbury and early morning cloud cover, Hampshire's top-order found the going tough despite the weakened Kent attack. Without seven potential new ball bowlers through injury or departure, Key was forced to turn to military-medium seamer Darren Stevens and rookie paceman Matt Coles to open his attack.
The pair, and Stevens in particular, performed wonders in restricting the visitors to barely two runs an over in the opening session. Stevens send down 15 overs unchanged from the Nackington Road End, seven of them maidens, and gave the hosts their first opening after 22.5 overs with the wicket of his former team-mate Michael Carberry who feathered a defensive push to the keeper to make it 37 for 1.
With so few pace alternatives, Key turned to spin well before lunch and reaped the rewards when James Tredwell then Bandara bagged early wickets. Tredwell had Australian Phil Hughes (1) caught at slip then Bandara followed suit, having Liam Dawson snaffled to the last ball before lunch when edging an airy drive to give Martin van Jaarsveld one of four slip catches in the innings.
Hampshire attempted to up their run-rate after the interval but, just as they looked set to crack on so Kent nipped out another wicket. Simon Cook claimed two in an over soon after the resumption to account for Michael Bates and Sean Ervine then Tredwell accounted for top- scorer Jimmy Adams for a stoic 84.
Having faced 222 balls and batted four-and-a-half hours - following his marathon innings against Lancashire last week - Adams edged an attempted sweep onto his boot, only to see the all lob gently into the gloves of Geraint Jones. Bandara, dropped to the Kent second string only a fortnight ago after taking only 10 championship wickets at a princely sum of 604 runs, then ran through the tail and end the Hampshire innings by 4.20pm, much to Key's delight.
"My players have given everything for me this season, they've been top drawer and 'Banda' is amongst that group," Key said. "It's not been easy for him to be left out of the team when he's perceived as our overseas pro, but he's understood that there have been times when we just couldn't go into some games with two spinners.
"We have struggled getting out the tail-enders in recent weeks and 'Banda' did that brilliantly today, he stepped up to the plate when we needed him most."