Kent soar to surprise success
Kent won their second successive LV= County Championship match at Canterbury and dented the promotion push of second-placed Middlesex by claiming a battling 69-run victory on the final afternoon.
The hosts wrapped up their fourth win of the Division Two campaign three overs into the final hour of the game to bank 20 points, while Middlesex went home with six after suffering only their second defeat of the summer, despite Jamie Dalrymple making an unbeaten 108 in the second innings.
Having taken Kent’s four remaining second-innings wickets at the start of the day to dismiss the hosts for 332 - their second highest championship total on this ground this season - Middlesex were left with 80 overs to chase 272 at an asking rate of 3.38 an over.
Yet survival quickly became a more realistic ambition for the visitors after they slumped to 30 for four shortly after lunch.
Matt Coles, taking the new ball for the first time in a year, started the rout with one that cut back off the seam to graze Scott Newman’s inside edge before plucking out off stump, while Darren Stevens swung one away to have Sam Robson caught at second slip for 12.
With his first delivery after lunch, Stevens feathered the outside edge of Dawid Malan’s bat to give wicketkeeper Geraint Jones a regulation catch. Two balls later Neil Dexter’s dire run of form continued with a third successive championship duck when he edged to second slip.
Chris Rogers played all around a Stevens’ inswinger to go for 26, and with 100 on the board, John Simpson fenced at the second delivery of the innings from Wahab Riaz to be caught behind for 19.
Jamie Dalrymple and Tom Smith dug in to add 48 in 20 overs for the seventh wicket, but soon after tea, and with 124 runs required, Adam Ball broke through and emulated Stevens by taking two wickets in as many balls.
Smith followed one outside off to edge low to third slip, then Tim Murtagh had his off stump pegged back first ball by a yorker.
Dalrymple farmed the strike intelligently to reach a 150-ball century - the first of the match - with 10 fours and two sixes.
Steven Finn departed two overs later after allowing one from James Tredwell to squeeze through bat and pad and roll on to the stumps, then the off-spinner rushed one through Corey Colleymore’s back-foot defensive push to wrap up the win shortly after 5.30pm.
The fourth day began with a high-class exhibition of new-ball bowling by Finn, who finished with 5-113.
The paceman accounted for James Tredwell with his fourth ball of the day, and with the first delivery of his next over sent Ball packing to another catch at the wicket.
Murtagh then extracted extra bounce to graze the edge of Coles’ bat and give Simpson his third catch of the session and sixth of the game.
Wahab Riaz was pinned leg before by a shooting off-cutter from Murtagh to leave Azhar Mahmood unbeaten on 92 from 140 balls.