Hampshire’s promotion thrust towards Division One of the LV= County Championship continued to gather momentum as they positioned themselves for a last-day victory push at Kent.
Having set their hosts a mammoth victory target of 501 runs, Hampshire dodged the rain showers to reduce Kent to 95 for two after 33 overs of their second innings at the Spitfire Ground.
Kent lost Rob Key lbw to former team-mate Matt Coles then, after a second-wicket stand of 70, left-hander Ben Harmison clipped lazily to short midwicket off the slow bowling of Danny Briggs.
Things might have been even worse for Kent at stumps but nightwatchman Adam Riley survived a huge concerted appeal for a catch behind from Coles’ final ball of the day to see Kent go into the final day needing a further 406 for an unlikely win.
The third day of the 163rd Canterbury Cricket Week clash started with Hampshire resuming on their second innings overnight score of 57 without loss.
The visitors continued to hammer home their advantage in this uneven clash between the promotion rivals through former Kent batsman Michael Carberry and skipper Jimmy Adams - both unbeaten on 26 overnight – who pushed on against a weary and disillusioned Kent attack to add a further 122 to their first-wicket stand.
— Hampshire Cricket (@hantscricket) August 17, 2014
The two left-handers reached their half-centuries from 133 balls apiece, Adams with six fours, while Carberry reached the milestone in style by pulling a short one from Riley over the midwicket ropes to go with his five boundaries.
Doug Bollinger, making his final four-day appearance for Kent before returning for duty with his Twenty20 franchise Hobart Hurricanes in the Champions League, strived for a breakthrough but Hampshire’s openers appeared unflustered.
Only heavy rain could stop them in their tracks as the players took an early lunch with the visitors on 136. They marched on to 179 before the introduction of off-spinner Riley gave a modest crowd the breakthrough they craved.
Carberry had reached 81 from 182 balls when, in trying to hit Riley out of the park, picked out Harmison at long-off instead.
Only 19 runs later, Adams - who was just three short of a deserved first century of the campaign - was comprehensively bowled when aiming to work to leg against Riley.
Will Smith and James Vince accelerated the run-rate with a brisk 37–run stand before rain arrived for a second downpour which forced the players off for an early tea with Hampshire 422 runs ahead.
After the resumption, Hampshire’s quest for quick runs led to the loss of three quick wickets, all to the rookie left-arm wrist spin of Fabian Cowdrey who bagged his maiden championship scalp during a stint of three for 59.
Having allowed time for the outfield to dry out, Adams finally declared with his side on 311 for five to leave Kent with a mountain to climb.