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By Charles Gill
A superb spell of fast bowling from Nathan Buck in the morning session was nullified by a resilient performance from the Kent tail-enders on the second day of the LV=CC game at Grace Road.
Leading wicket-taker Buck (26-4-97-4) bowled with pace, bounce, movement and venom to take three key wickets given the state of the game.
Mitchell Claydon evaded Buck to post his highest first-class score, accompanying his five wickets in the first innings, which guided his team to 302.
In reply, Leicestershire stumbled their way to 87-3 and a slender lead of two runs before bad light stopped play with Greg Smith unbeaten on 42 and Josh Cobb 17 not out.
Leicestershire started the day in a commanding position, having Kent on the ropes at 106-5, but it soon began to slip at the hands of ex-Fox Darren Stevens and Adam Ball.
The runs flowed freely early on in the day, with 59 added to the total in the first 10 overs. Charlie Shreck (24-5-69-2) and Buck were punished for bowling anything short, as ten balls found their way to the boundary as well as a six off the bat of Stevens.
Buck then produced a superb spell as Leicestershire fought back strongly. The 55th over saw Buck produce a peach of a delivery to disturb Ball’s bails and break the partnership worth 92 in just 133 balls.
The 23-year-old looked to be really pumped up and could have had Sam Billings dismissed three different ways. A huge appeal for leg before wicket was turned down, Jigar Naik dropped a low chance at first slip next ball and a ricochet off the gloves fell just short of the scrambling Niall O’Brien.
The paceman finally had his man after another lbw shout resulted in umpire Peter Hartley answering in the affirmative, the young wicket-keeper heading back to the pavilion for 4. Buck claimed the key wicket of Stevens after he reached his 50 in just 61 balls with eight fours and a six. His fourth wicket did not represent the quality of his spell as he strangled Stevens down the leg side and O’Brien took a spectacular one-handed catch diving to his left.
Claydon then proved to be a thorn in Leicestershire’s side with the bat as well as the ball, starting with three consecutive boundaries off Rob Taylor (9.4-3-41-2) to take Kent to their first batting point. Debutant Charlie Hartley offered stoic defence before the lunch break, but very little after it as he chopped the second ball of the afternoon session from Ben Raine (17-6-54-2) onto his stumps.
Adam Riley and Claydon frustrated the Leicestershire attack further by putting on 67 for the final wicket, with Clayton scoring only his second first-class 50 and going on to surpass his previous highest score of 55. Clayton finished on 77 having been bowled by Taylor going for a huge swing into the leg side but his heroics ensured Kent ended 85 runs ahead.
Stevens (12-3-32-2) wreaked havoc with the ball as well early on, removing Angus Robson and Ned Eckersley both LBW for single figures. Redfern was caught behind off the bowling of Ball (2-0-10-1) for 6, and by the time the afternoon session finished, Leicestershire were 50-3 and trailing by 35 runs.
Rain prevented the players from coming straight out after the tea break, but when they did return to the field at 5.15 Smith and Cobb were in a swashbuckling mood, scoring 24 inside the first two overs. Cobb and Smith stood strong until umpires Peter Hartley and Anil Chaudhary decided that the light was not good enough to continue.