Seam trio prosper for Essex

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David Masters, Graham Napier and Maurice Chambers claimed three wickets apiece as Essex dismissed Kent for 226 on day one of their LV= County Championship Division Two clash at Canterbury.

Only Michael Powell, with a gritty 62 scored in almost three hours, got to grips with the difficult batting conditions before the hosts were dismissed by 5:50pm.

In the nine overs remaining, Essex reached 14 without loss and will go into day two trailing by 212 runs.

Without a win at Canterbury since May and fresh from close, yet disappointing away results at Hampshire and Derbyshire, Kent were forced into team changes at the start of the day.

David Masters

David Masters was one of three Essex seamers to claim a trio of wickets as Kent laboured to 226 all out on the opening day of four at Canterbury

James Tredwell's involvement with England Lions led to a second appearance of the summer for Adam Riley, while Azhar Mahmood made a season’s four-day debut to replace the resting Mark Davies.

Ben Harmison, having scored 311 runs in the championship at an average of 20, was dropped and Alex Blake handed an opportunity at the vital number three batting berth.

Batting first after winning the toss, Kent made a poor start when skipper Rob Key, in aiming to work to leg, provided Chambers with a low return catch off the leading edge.

Sam Northeast looked in command in reaching 32, until he fenced a Chambers leg-cutter to second slip to see Harbhajan Singh parry the catch straight to wicketkeeper James Foster.

Blake also looked unhurried on his way to 19, but his decision to shoulder arms to a Napier off-cutter resulted in his off stump cartwheeling clean out of the ground.

Having been dropped by Harbhajan just before lunch when on 11, Brendan Nash was caught two balls after the resumption by the same player off Masters to make it 82 for four and bring together Powell and Darren Stevens for a useful stand of 38.

Stevens was unlucky to drag an attempted drive against Napier onto leg stump, but Geraint Jones had no such excuse as he prodded hesitantly at the same bowler to go leg before.

In the over before tea, having batted stoically, Powell chased a wide one from Chambers to be caught by Harbhajan in the cordon.

Matt Coles then lamely chipped to wide mid-on to give the veteran India spinner his only wicket of the day.

Riley was undone by the new ball, caught behind off Masters, and Azhar, who was batting with a runner after a bout of cramp, missed an expansive drive to be bowled by Napier and fall one short of his half-century.

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