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Azhar bags first five-for of the season to seal Kent triumph

Saturday 31st July 2010

Azhar Mahmood finished the day with a season’s bestfive for 62

Kent v Essex LV= County Championship, Division 1, final day in Canterbury.

By Mark Pennell

Kent hauled themselves out of the first division relegation slots and into sixth spot with their first home win of the LV= County Championship campaign and their maiden maximum points win of the season.
Needing 277 for victory and having dominated proceedings on Saturday, Essex resumed on 48 for one but, having reached 120 for three, proceeded to lose their last seven wickets for 57 runs to ensure a 99-run home win.
Veteran seamer Azhar Mahmood was the pick of the attack with five for 62, yet it was Simon Cook who snared the crucial wicket of Ravi Bopara for 31.
Kent made their first breakthrough of the morning in the third over when Amjad Khan accounted for Tom Westley for 25. Pushing forward in defence the ball took the edge and flew to second slip where Martin van Jaarsveld held a regulation chance.
Azhar Mahmood then produced a snorter to send Jaik Mickleburgh packing for 24. Shaping the ball back in to the right-hander as he pushed half forward in defence, it cut back through the gate to peg back middle and off stumps and make it 64 for three.
Ravi Bopara and matt Walker nigh on doubled the Essex total before Simon Cook replaced Khan at the Nackington Road End to break their stand, though the much of the credit must go to keeper Geraint Jones.
As Bopara lost balance and switched his feet when pushing forward to a leg-cutter, so Jones gathered and whipped off the bails to end his 55-ball innings in the blink of an eye.
Matthew Walker (35) and James Foster (12) tried to re-group after the interval but Mahmood jagged one down the slop to trap Walker leg before and Foster chanced his arm to Rob Key whose direct hit from wide mid-on sent him packing.
Key“s side polished the job off ruthlessly, as Mahmood and James Tredwell bagged two apiece to clinch their second win of the summer with a session and a half to spare.
The win moves Kent temporarily to sixth in the table and only two short of Essex in fifth with a game in hand.

Picture: Sarah Ansell