Rob key to Kent progress

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Rob Key fell three runs short of a century as Kent took full advantage of a below-par Yorkshire bowling performance on day one of their LV= County Championship Division Two clash at Headingley Carnegie.

After winning the toss on a true surface, captain Key struck 12 fours in his impressive 153-ball innings and looked to be heading towards a 46th first-class hundred, only to recklessly run himself out for 97.

The 32-year-old had comfortably overcome the new-ball pairing of Ryan Sidebottom and Ajmal Shahzad to put on 141 for the first wicket with Scott Newman, who rode his luck at times on his way to 64.

Number three Ben Harmison, one of six Kent debutants, made 45 and Australian-born West Indies batsman Brendan Nash acclimatised to English conditions immaculately with an impressive 67.

Despite Michael Powell becoming Adil Rashid’s second victim in the penultimate over of the day, Darren Stevens remained unbeaten on 22 as Kent closed on 345 for five.

Newman, a loan signing from Middlesex, survived a scare in the opening over, edging Sidebottom’s fourth ball just short of Rashid at third slip.

But Newman and Key soon got into their strides, punishing the wayward White Rose bowlers with an array of crunching drives through the off side.

Rob Key

Kent captain Rob Key leads from the front with a solid 97 as Kent frustrated the Yorkshire bowlers at Headingley Carnegie today

Newman, who saw a leading edge off Sidebottom drop safe in the mid-on region, brought up the fifty partnership by hooking Iain Wardlaw, playing only his second first-class match, to the fine-leg boundary.

Richard Pyrah was convinced he had Newman, on 31, caught behind by Jonny Bairstow in the 21st over, but the umpires were unmoved.

Former England international Key raced to a 76-ball half-century and, in the next, Newman followed suit, bringing up his milestone from 87 deliveries.

However, shortly after lunch the pair were separated as a much-improved Sidebottom made the breakthrough with a fine yorker that breached Newman’s defences and removed his middle stump.

Sidebottom welcomed Harmison to the crease by striking him on the helmet with a bouncer, but the former Durham all-rounder gradually settled and brought up the Kent 200 with a straight-drive off Anthony McGrath’s gentle medium pace.

Key handed Yorkshire a vital breakthrough with a mis-judged quick single to Andrew Gale, who ran out his opposing skipper with a smart direct hit from mid-off.

Rashid, modelling a new action, surprised left-hander Nash with a delivery that lifted and took the edge just past Gary Ballance at slip before Harmison rocked onto the back foot to pull the leg-spinner over midwicket for six.

But, with the final ball before tea, Rashid got his revenge and Yorkshire’s first bonus point of 2012 as Harmison, on the drive, could only edge to Ballance, who eventually held on in the cordon.

Nash, looking to punish anything full, and Powell, strong behind square, put on 71 in a classy 22-over stay at the crease as Kent enhanced their prospects of claiming full batting bonus points.

Nash was given a life when Rashid spilled a chance at third slip off Shahzad, who eventually got his man soon after when McGrath, diving to his right, claimed a super catch in the cordon.

Powell and Stevens joined forces to add 34, until Rashid trapped the former in front for 37 to lift Yorkshire after a tough start to their campaign in the second tier.

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