Azhar in the mood for Kent

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Azhar Mahmood

Azhar Mahmood's 5-62 undermined Essex's pursuit of 277. They managed 177 as Kent enjoyed a rare home win

Kent secured their first home win of the LV= County Championship season after dismissing Essex for 177 on the final afternoon at Canterbury.

They won this Division One relegation tussle by 99 runs to collect a full complement of 24 points after Azhar Mahmood undermined Essex’s pursuit of 277.

Essex resumed this morning on 48 for one, needing a further 229 for their third win of the season.

They looked in contention with Matt Walker and Ravi Bopara in tandem, but the dismissal of the latter for 31 sparked a dramatic collapse that saw Essex lose their last seven wickets for 57 runs. Azhar was the pick of the Kent attack with 5-62.

Victory lifts Kent up to sixth, well clear of bottom club Warwickshire and only two points shy of fifth-placed Essex with a game in hand.

Having suffered a miserable third day, Kent set out today with greater focus and that paid dividends when they struck as early as the third over, Amjad Khan having Tom Westley caught at slip by Martin van Jaarsveld.

Three overs later Jaik Mickleburgh pushed forward at an Azhar inswinger that bowled him through the gate.

Former Kent favourite Walker and Bopara joined forces to almost double the Essex total before a brilliant stumping from Geraint Jones sent Bopara packing.

Prodding forward at a Simon Cook leg-cutter that lifted and left him, Bopara slightly lost balance and switched feet in the crease, creating the glimmer of a stumping opportunity that Jones gleefully accepted to leave Essex 120 for four.

Scenting their chance, Kent claimed the last six wickets in the afternoon session and wrap up victory shortly before 3pm.

Having made 35, Walker fell for Azhar’s three-card trick, two outswingers followed by a full-length off-cutter down the slope that trapped him in front.

Captain James Foster was run out by Rob Key’s direct hit as he attempted to pinch a single to mid-on, and Azhar did for David Masters and Maurice Chambers with near-identical deliveries that went down the slope to hit off stump.

James Tredwell had Tim Phillips caught at slip and Andy Carter well held on the run at long-on by Cook.

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