There was rarely a dull moment at the Fisched County Ground as Kent, with Darren Stevens inevitably leading the counter-attack, fought back after being reduced to 144-5 replying to Leicestershire’s first innings score of 420.
Stevens, picking up where he left off in hitting 147 off just 67 balls in the Royal London Cup against Glamorgan in his previous innings, smashed an unbeaten half-century off just 30 balls in the hour before play finally ended at 7.30pm at the Fischer County Ground.
Leicestershire’s left-arm quick bowler Dieter Klein had picked up four wickets as the home team did their best to make up for the time lost to the weather over the first two days of the game, when only 47.3 overs had been possible.
The afternoon had seen the Foxes’ tail wag to impressive effect to ensure a maximum bonus point return.
REPLAY | The third maximum of McKay's innings! Career-best 66 for the Victorian pic.twitter.com/pac1kRz2cJ— Leicestershire CCC🏏 (@leicsccc) May 21, 2017
Play resumed with Leicestershire on 129-2, and Colin Ackermann was fortunate to survive when he edged the second ball of the day, from Matt Hunn, just short of Matt Coles at first slip. Thereafter, however, the South African played with an unhurried assurance, going to his 50 with a cut to the boundary off Coles.
He and Leicestershire captain Mark Cosgrove had added 76 runs for the third wicket when Cosgrove, on 39, was trapped leg-before by a Stevens in-swinger. Ackermann lofted James Tredwell for a straight six, but the off-spinner did enjoy success shortly before lunch when Ned Eckersley tried to pull a short ball, missed, and was bowled for 33.
Having bowled without much luck in the morning session, the Kent seamers enjoyed better fortunes immediately after the break. Ackermann was caught behind by Daniel Bell-Drummond, who had taken over the gloves after Adam Rouse dislocated his thumb earlier in the day, Mark Pettini went leg before to James Harris and Callum Parkinson, pushing forward, was comfortably held by substitute fielder Alex Blake at fourth slip off Hunn.
At 278-7 Leicestershire were in danger of subsiding, but Tom Wells, Klein and then Clint McKay all put bat to ball. Wells, on his first championship appearance, was disappointed to sky an attempted leg-side clip high to mid-off on 46, but Klein thumped 23 off just ten balls, and McKay, having gone to his 50 with a straight six off James Harris, went to a first-class career best 66 with a similar blow.
REPLAY | Here's Klein taking the first wicket of the Kent first innings pic.twitter.com/dPL6TeYOSi— Leicestershire CCC🏏 (@leicsccc) May 21, 2017
When Kent began their reply, Klein, swinging the ball back in to the right-handers, quickly pinned Sean Dickson leg before and bowled Joe Denly with a full delivery before a partnership of 57 between Daniel Bell-Drummond and Sam Northeast went some way towards repairing the visitors’ fortunes.
Wells dismissed Bell-Drummond with his first ball, and Klein returned to have both Northeast and Will Gidman caught edging loose drives. Kent were in serious trouble, but Stevens played as though the score was 400 rather than 150, hitting through the line of the ball with supreme confidence and timing.
He was particularly severe on the unfortunate Callum Parkinson, hitting the young left-arm spinner for 30 off just three overs on his first-class debut for Leicestershire, and his half-century included nine fours and a six.