Worcestershire 336 (Clarke 142, Leach 57*) and 16 for 0 require a further 383 runs to beat Kent 260 (Coles 47) and 474 (Denly 227, Rouse 68)
Joe Denly demonstrated immense powers of concentration in the sweltering heat with a career-best double century to steer Kent into a position of strength on day three of the Specsavers County Championship clash with Worcestershire at New Road.
The 31-year-old batsman resumed on his overnight 69 and batted for a total of nearly eight hours in scoring 227 out of 474 all out to leave Worcestershire a 399 target. His marathon knock surpassed his 206 not out against Northampton at Wantage Road last season.
It rescued Kent from the real possibility of losing inside three days, after they had lost their sixth wicket shortly before lunch when their overall lead was only 129.
Now they will have high hopes of pushing for victory tomorrow with Pakistan wrist spinner Yasir Shah the ace up their sleeve on what is still a good wicket for batting.
It was a cruel turnaround for Worcestershire who had strong hopes of a win that would revive their promotion challenge against the side in second place.
On the longest day of the year, Denly's superb knock must also have felt never-ending for the wilting Worcestershire attack which stuck gamely to its task but was gradually worn down in the soaring temperatures.
It was his second century in three Championship matches and has giiven Kent a strong platform to test the resolution of the home side in the top three promotion battle.
He was given excellent support by keeper Adam Rouse (68) in a stand of 149 in 39 overs - a Kent seventh wicket record in matches against Worcestershire.
Denly had batted for a total of 468 minutes, had faced 320 balls and struck 24 fours and five sixes when he finally holed out to Ed Barnard at long off against Joe Leach.
It had been a different scenario at the start of the day after Worcestershire skipper Joe Leach had bowled an impressive opening spell which yielded two wickets.
Joe Weatherley had not added to his overnight score when he was caught at second slip by Daryl Mitchell and then Darren Stevens shouldered arms and was trapped lbw.
Denly went to three figures in the grand manner with a six over long on off Moeen Ali.
When Will Gidman drove at John Hastings and nicked through to Ross Whiteley at first slip, Kent were in a position of some discomfort at 205 for 6. But then Rouse proved a willing ally for Denly and the pair flourished with the former reaching a determined half century off 105 balls.
A wicket did not fall in the afternoon session until the last ball before tea when Rouse popped a Moeen delivery up to short leg.
There was no respite after the resumption for Worcestershire as Matt Coles clubbed 39 and Yasir Shah 27 in stands of 54 and 41.
Denly's double ton came up off 299 balls with 23 fours and three sixes and a two off Josh Tongue brought him his new career best.
Worcestershire openers Daryl Mitchell and Brett D'Oliveira negotiated five overs in reaching 16 for 0 by the close.