Kent 155 for 3 (Denly 56*) trail Leicestershire 386 (Stevens 5-88) by 231 runs
When bad light forced a halt with 13 scheduled overs remaining, Kent had reached 155 for 3 - a deficit of 231 - with Denly unbeaten on 56 and Sam Northeast with 38. The fourth-wicket partners added an unbroken 79 as Kent fought back from 76 for 3.
Responding to Leicestershire's impressive 386, rounded off this morning when Stevens ripped out the lower order for figures of 5 for 88, Kent lost Daniel Bell-Drummond for 14 to a catch in the slip cordon off Clint McKay. Then after looking out of sorts in scoring eight, home skipper Rob Key played around one from McKay to go leg before and make it 40 for 2.
Brendan Nash, another member of the Kent top order to have made a miserable start to the summer, then aimed an expansive cover drive at Rob Taylor to go for 21 and with only 76 on the board.
Denly, back at his home club after a mixed three-year stint with Middlesex, dug in thereafter in tandem with vice-captain Northeast in a combative fourth-wicket stand and registered his second successive championship fifty from 149 balls. He reached the milestone with a rare moment of flamboyance; rocking back to pull a short one for six over square leg to go with his five fours. Denly added only five more before fading light and faulty floodlights forced an early finish just after 5.30pm.
"It was tough going because Leicestershire bowled pretty well in pretty gloomy conditions for the last hour or so and we had to graft hard for those runs," Denly said. The light was poor just before tea and coming out and re-starting was tough. Clint McKay's a decent bowler and we know full well at Kent what Charlie Shreck can do, so we were made to work for every run.
"If we're honest, we didn't create enough pressure with the ball on the opening day but Darren Stevens' spell this morning has got us back into things."
Leicestershire started the day sitting pretty on 300 for 5 in their first innings and that they were restricted to only 86 more runs was solely down to the naggingly accurate seamers of Stevens, who claimed Kent's first five-wicket haul of the summer.
The former Leicestershire batsman was barely trusted to bowl during his eight years at Grace Road but his low, medium-paced slingers can cause havoc at the Spitfire Ground, as his 5 for 28 return of the opening session proved.
Ben Raine played all around an in-ducker, McKay sliced a slower ball into the hands of deep extra-cover, then Lewis Hill, after marking his first-class bow with a 79-ball half-century, chopped on when attempting to cut.
Though frustrated at getting out to an ill-judged shot, Hill was delighted to mark his first team debut with a 50. "I was honoured to get selected and so proud to get my cap yesterday, so to get a 50 as well was brilliant," he said. "It would have been nice to go on and get three figures and, looking back at the replays, I have to be disappointed with the shot. But, if you'd offered me 57 yesterday, I'd have gladly taken it."
Having bowled Hill, Stevens polished off Leicestershire's innings just before lunch by bowling Jigar Naik after the tail-ender padded up then by having his former Kent team-mate Shreck held at short mid-off without scoring after a tame checked drive.