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Kent record six-wicket victory

Sam Northeast made an unbeaten century and all of Kent’s batsmen made valuable contributions as the visitors picked up a six-wicket LV=CC win at Grace Road.

The final day was nicely poised as Kent needed a further 238 to win while Leicestershire required nine wickets.

County would have felt well in the game on 110-3 after set batsmen Ben Harmison (40) and Daniel Bell-Drummond (53), who shared 62 for the second wicket, fell in quick succession.

But Northeast (112*) shared 116 with Brendan Nash (53) and a further unbroken 80 with Darren Stevens (21*) as Kent landed victory.

Resuming in glorious sunshine on 66-1, Kent started brightly. Harmison hit a trio of boundaries in the first two overs to take the stand to 50 and Bell-Drummond hit a delightful cover drive to the ropes.

Leicestershire desperately needed to end the stand and Nathan Buck (17-3-68-2) was the man, enticing Harmison to edge to a diving Niall O’Brien for 40 off just 44 balls (8x4) with the score on 92.

Bell-Drummond thrice guided the ball to the third man boundary and a glorious cover drive also went for four to take the young opener to an 84-ball 50 (10x4). Bell-Drummond was looking in fine fettle but he fell in the next over after edging an attempted drive to O’Brien off Charlie Shreck (17-2-67-1).

Jigar Naik (10.5-0-64-0) came on to bowl after an hour of play and Nash immediately looked to knock him out of his stride. The former West Indies international deftly cut away before anticipating the much fuller length that followed as he swept to pick up a second consecutive boundary.

Nash produced a similar stroke in Naik’s next over as he continued to score freely while Northeast, who nicked a four between those sweeps, then produced two further off-side strokes of a more authentic nature to gather boundaries.

Nash clipped Rob Taylor (9-0-52-0) for four through mid-wicket and a Northeast single took the stand to 50. Northeast’s boundaries continued to vary in terms of aesthetics; a snick off Ben Raine (14-4-41-1) was followed by a wonderful drive through mid-on off the same bowler before another edge flashed down to third man off Buck.

Kent went into lunch on 191-3 as Nash swotted away a Dan Redfern (1-0-11-0) full toss for six in the final over. The left-hander was unbeaten on 38 and Northeast had 45 at that stage on proceedings.

A clip through square-leg brought Nash four more, and Northeast then pulled away to move to a 76-ball fifty courtesy of his seventh four. The alliance also progressed into three figures with that stroke.

Two more leg-side boundaries took Nash to a 75-ball half-century and Northeast edged Buck past a diving Naik at slip to pick up four more. The batsman was then dropped by Taylor off Buck at backward point but the bowler got deserved reward when a leading edge from Nash looped to Cobb at mid-on.

Buck and Shreck bowled well in tandem but Northeast and Stevens battled through the testing period. Northeast then flicked the returning Raine to the mid-wicket boundary and Stevens drove Shreck off the back foot through cover to collect his first boundary.

Kent would not allow Naik to settle. Nine came off the off-spinner’s comeback over, including a four through mid-wicket for Stevens, while Northeast punched and pulled to the ropes as the same amount of runs came from his second over.

Northeast edged Raine for four and a brace of boundaries in Naik’s next over took the number five batsman to 90 and the partnership to 50. Stevens glanced Taylor for four in the 66th over before Northeast hit two leg-side fours in the left armer’s next offering to move to a 137-ball hundred.

Northeast then ended the game in style by striking Naik for three consecutive fours. Leicestershire’s next game in the LV=CC is a trip to Worcestershire on Sunday morning (11am).


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