Nottinghamshire 135 for 3 (Mullaney 63*) trail Kent 180 (Bell-Drummond 84*; Mullaney 3-2, Pattinson 3-30) by 45 runs
Nottinghamshire are in no rush to sign up another overseas player when James Pattinson returns to Australia after Saturday's Royal London One-Day Cup final.
The 27-year-old fast bowler has given the Division Two leaders outstanding service, with 12 wickets in his nine one-day matches and 31 to date in five appearances in the Championship, having reached that total by taking three wickets in eight balls to begin the dismantling of Kent's first innings here, after which Nottinghamshire came through a testing first floodlit passage of the match in what they will feel is pretty good shape.
Had Pattinson not missed four Championship matches during the Champions Trophy, when he was frustrated not to play in any of Australia's fixtures, he could be past 50 first-class wickets for the season already, which is why Nottinghamshire will keep his place in the side vacant for as long as possible in the hope of seeing him again before the summer is out.
Pattinson is in the squad for Australia's tour of Bangladesh at the end of August but until the contract dispute between the players and Cricket Australia is settled, it cannot be taken for granted that the tour will go ahead. The current contracts expire on Friday.
Were Nottinghamshire to have Pattinson back when the Championship run-in begins on August 28, they could confidently expect to have the firepower to bring a successful conclusion to their promotion bid, irrespective of whether Stuart Broad and Jake Ball are required by England.
"Happily we've got a bit of time on our side," Mick Newell, the county's director of cricket said. "After this match, we just have the Championship match against Derbyshire between now and August 28 and there is the option to play Dan Christian or Ish Sodhi in that one. So we can wait and see how things unfold with James before we decide whether to look at anyone else."
"I didn't mind the pink ball, it was very different to the red ball as it didn't shine up as much as the red Dukes. It swung throughout the innings, so no real complaints from me at all." Luke Fletcher on the pink ball
Kent were probably fortunate to lose only three wickets to Pattinson as Nottinghamshire's attack, missing Broad because of the heel injury that threatens his participation in Saturday's one-day final, proved as effective with the pink ball as they have been with the red.
He bowled just as impressively in his second spell as his first, bowling full and straight and fast, getting inswing and outswing, and another burst of wickets always seemed likely. As it was, after seeing Will Gidman escape twice in the same over, dropped by Steven Mullaney in the slips and then almost snapped up by Chris Read, he had to be content with three.
Only Daniel Bell-Drummond came between Kent and a still-more painful indictment of their decision to bat first on a greenish pitch, carrying his bat for 84. At 23 years old, he continues to grow in stature, steadfast where others at times were betrayed by impatience or misjudgement.
At 6 for 3, Sam Billings - dropping in for half this match between T20 and England Lions assignments - decided to counter-attack aggressively, taking on both Pattinson and Ball with some success. It was a major blow for Kent, then, that a loose drive against Luke Fletcher saw his assault ended earlier than it should have been.
Darren Stevens also paid the price for taking liberties with Fletcher. Gidman, having survived against Pattinson while in single figures, helped Bell-Drummond add 55 before being yorked by Harry Gurney but the prospects for a Bell-Drummond century and a Kent batting point receded rapidly as Mullaney, something of a partnership-breaker with his skilful medium pace, took three wickets in the space of 13 deliveries. Mitch Claydon, not unusually, did not hang around long enough to delay the second interval.
Thus Nottinghamshire had maximum bowling points, as they have in all their nine matches so far. Yet the achievement was double-edged this time, perhaps, in that it required their batsmen to step into the unknown, facing the pink ball under lights.
Kent didn't threaten them much at first. Matt Coles offered too much width and Stevens, who took the new ball ahead of the debutant New Zealand quick Adam Milne, was fairly easily kept out, with little forewarning of the edge to third slip that saw Jake Libby depart at the end of the 14th over.
They were now at the difficult stage, when the floodlights were not quite in charge, for which they had practised in a mock-up last Friday evening without gaining much confidence.
Kent's tails were up briefly as Brendan Taylor and Samit Patel, both in form - Patel with back-to-back double hundreds - went cheaply, although the balls that did for them would probably have succeeded in any light and with any colour. Taylor was caught behind trying to fend off a snorter from Milne and Patel lost his off stump to a lovely ball from Coles that swung late, much to the relief of Joe Denly, who had dropped him at gully second ball off Milne.
Nottinghamshire's confidence, then, will have been much bolstered by emerging from the remaining hour and a half with no more setbacks, particularly given that Mullaney, dropped on 50 off a hard chance to gully off Stevens, had to contend with an upset stomach as well as a hostile Milne. He and Alex Hales have added 83.