Date: Wednesday 05 September 2012
Leicestershire produced a strong bowling fightback against Kent but the Second XI Championship Final at Grace Road is still very much in the balance.
Nightwatchman Jack Laraman did a fine job helping Daniel Bell-Drummond (88) put on 101 for the first wicket and Kent were sitting pretty on 198-2.
Four wickets either side of tea – two apiece for Michael Thornely (9-3-21-2) and Nathan Buck (20-4-46-2) – reduced the visitors to 211-6 before Fabian Cowdrey (60, 75b 9x4) and Chris Piesley (35*, 83b, 3x4) rebuilt impressively.
The duo shared 97 until Nathan Hawkes (10-1-19-2) pinned Cowdrey leg-before and Kent closed on 313-7.
That is 47 shy of County’s 360 and the first innings lead is key given that is the deciding factor if the game ends as a draw – so there is all to play for in this absorbing contest.
Rob Taylor shuffled his attack well and made full use of it as eight bowlers were used over the course of the day.
Buck and trialist Robbie Williams had lengthy opening bursts and the skipper also had an early spell but a breakthrough was not forthcoming as the openers played well.
Bell-Drummond posted a 64-ball half-century with eight fours and that prompted a double change as spin twins Jigar Naik and James Sykes came on.
Laraman drove to the ropes to take the stand into three figures but he was trapped lbw by Naik for 34 (83b, 7x4). The slow men did a good job in dragging back the rate as they conceded just 21 between them in 11 pre-lunch overs.
Kent went in on 105-1 and Bell-Drummond and Akhil Patel put on 42 for the second wicket. A change of tack ended the opener’s 134-ball stay as he nicked medium pacer Nathan Hawkes through to Paul Dixey with the score on 143.
Patel and Ben Harmison got stuck in and a Harmison on-drive for four took the partnership past 50. It was tough going for the bowlers but they stuck to their task and were rewarded with two important wickets in as many deliveries just before tea.
Buck trapped Patel lbw, the batsman opting to play no stroke at one that came back, while Harmison pulled Thornely’s first ball to Hawkes at mid-wicket. Both made 34 and Sam Billings and Adam Ball were paired together with neither having faced a ball.
Billings fell lbw to Thornely in the tea over so Kent went in on 199-5. Leicestershire had their tails up and Buck picked up a second wicket after tea as Ball gloved one down the leg-side but Cowdrey and Piesley got stuck in.
The young duo saw their team to 240-6 when the new ball was due but it was not taken immediately. Instead, Sykes and Naik resumed their partnership.
With no wicket coming, Williams took the new ball after 85 overs. Piesley picked up a two to take the stand to 50 but there was a reprieve for his colleague as Thornely put down a chance at first slip off the seamer with the score on 262.
The duo continued to collect runs at a decent pace and Cowdrey registered an excellent 63-ball half-century that included seven fours. The Kent 300 came up in the 91st over but Cowdrey fell two overs later as Hawkes claimed a second wicket.
Piesley and Calum Haggett saw their side through to stumps, with Kent needing a further 48 and Leicestershire requiring three wickets to take the first innings honours.
Kent: (0-0 overnight)
Laraman lbw Naik 34
Bell-Drummond c Dixey b Hawkes 88
Patel lbw Buck 34
Harmison c Hawkes b Thornely 34
Billings lbw Thornely 0
Ball c Dixey b Buck 8
Cowdrey lbw Hawkes 60
Piesley not out 35
Haggett not out 1
Total 313-7 (97 overs)