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Date: Friday 31 August 2012
Darren Stevens returned to haunt Leicestershire with a five-wicket haul as Kent landed a 147-run LV=CC win at Grace Road.
Chasing 283 to win in a minimum of 68 overs, Stevens returned figures of 5-35 to deny his former club the chance to move up the table and give his current employers a chance of going up.
County slipped to 13-3 before Matthew Boyce (23, 80b) and Josh Cobb (21, 56b) battled extremely hard.
Leicestershire continued to lose wickets at regular intervals until Jigar Naik and captain Matthew Hoggard joined forces.
Naik top-scored with 33 (47b) as he and Hoggard (16*, 46b) put together the highest alliance of the innings (38). But Mark Davies (16-6-24-3) trapped the spinner lbw to end 13.2 overs of resistance and County were then bowled out for 135.
Earlier in the day, the teams set up a chase. Leicestershire faced one further ball in their first innings and declared on 171-3, so Boyce (78*) and Cobb (31*) ended unbeaten and the first innings deficit was 179.
Kent then moved to 103-2 declared off 23 overs in their second innings to set County just over four runs per over.
Wayne White bowled off-spin and took the wicket of Rob Key (14) while Michael Thornely (6-1-16-1) claimed the wicket of Sam Northeast (20), both caught at slip by Naik. Alex Blake ended on 35 not out and Brendan Nash 25 not out.
Leicestershire needed to get off to a solid start but it did not materialise. Thornely fell in the third over as he nicked Davies to Geraint Jones and the seamer nearly made it two in two as Ned Eckersley drove uppishly back but the former Durham man couldn’t hold on.
There was a loud lbw appeal later that over and Kent claimed a second wicket in an all-action opening. Charlie Shreck (10.5-2-30-2) produced a beauty that Will Jones edged to his namesake and Leicestershire were 7-2.
The score moved to 12-2 at lunch so the team required a further 271 from a minimum of 62 overs at that stage. The team were looking for a rebuilding period but Eckersley fell to at tremendous catch by Matt Coles at cover off Davies in the over after the break to leave County in some trouble on 13-3.
It left Leicestershire with the two batsman who started the day at the wicket, Boyce and Cobb. Runs were hard to come by - Davies’ first 13 overs, including ten on the bounce after lunch, yielded just 18 runs - but Boyce twice drove to the fence amid watchful defence and Cobb also drove a four.
Stevens then had a real purple patch to swing the pendulum in Kent's favour. Cobb pushed forward but was hit bang in front so he departed for 21 with the score on 48.
Shiv Thakor (22) scored freely from word go - a drive through backward point was a particularly nice stroke - but the batsman also fell to Stevens as Sam Northeast pocketed a catch at second slip.
The all rounder made it three wickets as White lost his off stump in the next offering and Boyce then drove aerially to Coles at mid-wicket to leave the team on 88-7. Naik and Rob Taylor advanced the score to 94-7 at tea but the left hander became Stevens’ fifth victim, plumb lbw, in the over after the break.
Naik helped the score into three figures and then guided a boundary down to third man as he and Hoggard scrapped away. The duo kept picking up runs where they could as they put together the best partnership of the innings.
Kent were just started to get frustrated when Davies pinned Naik leg-before and Shreck had Alex Wyatt caught at short-leg in the next over. The team’s final fixture of the season comes in the LV=CC against Gloucestershire at Grace Road starting on Tuesday, September 11 (10.30am).
Kent currently sit four points behind Yorkshire in second place and 23 behind leaders Derbyshire, who they take on next week at Canterbury. County are in 7th place, six points ahead of Glamorgan and seven clear of Gloucestershire, although the duo have a game in hand. Glamorgan travel to promotion chasing Yorkshire next week while Gloucestershire are at home to Northants.