Hampshire take charge of basement battle
Hampshire 204 and 16 for 0 and Kent 182
A late afternoon collapse that saw Kent lose three wickets for four runs in the space of five balls allowed Hampshire to wrest the initiative of this first division survival battle and leave the hosts staring down the barrel at Championship relegation.
Having dismissed their fellow strugglers for 182 to secure a slender, yet precious first innings lead of 22, Hampshire survived a dozen nervy overs in fading light through to the close and go into day three on 16 without loss and an overall advantage in the match of 38 runs.
Rain and bad light ensured there was no hope of Kent resuming on their overnight total of 15 for one until 1.35pm and after the loss of 30 overs out of the day.
Home second-wicket pair Rob Key and Joe Denly emerged seemingly hell bent on making up for lost time and, with an array of drives and cuts, took the score on to 41 before the gloom started to descend on the Kentish faithful.
Playing across the line of a canny off-cutter from Dominic Cork, Key was almost walking by the time the finger went up to confirm the Hampshire skipper's leg before appeal.
Denly, with a top-score of 42, and Martin van Jaarsveld (41) dug in to double Kent's tally before Denly played inside the line of a Sean Ervine leg-cutter that rearranged middle and off stumps.
Just before tea, Geraint Jones aiming to leg and against the spin when facing left-arm spinner Danny Briggs also went lbw, though the batsman left the middle somewhat quizzically and only after making a point of inspecting the inside edge of his bat.
Kent's collapse gathered momentum soon after tea and coincided with a second stint by seamer James Tomlinson, the pick of the visiting attack on an overcast day with four for 59.
He enticed Darren Stevens (13) into an ill-advised waft outside off that found the edge through to the keeper and then beat Alex Blake for pace next ball up to pin the rookie left-hander leg before.
With five slips and a gully in place for the hat-trick delivery, Tomlinson dragged the ball onto leg stump allowing James Tredwell to survive it by glancing for four to fine leg.
However, there was little or no respite for Kent as veteran seamer Cork maintained his side's grip on the game by plucking out van Jaarsveld's off stump in the next over as the hosts conspired to lose three in the space of five deliveries.
Malinga Bandara aimed a lusty blow against Tomlinson to miss by a mile and go lbw, then Matt Coles steered to the keeper when trying to withdraw the bat at the last minute. It was left to Ervine to polish off the innings by having James Tredwell caught at deep midwicket to end a last wicket stand of 22.
Hampshire's bowling hero Tomlinson, said afterwards: "We're back in the hunt in this game now and we're delighted. We knew if we could nip one or two out we might get more and we somehow managed to get wickets at key moments."