Batting woes on both sides as 21 wickets add to the Cricket Week drama

Tuesday 4th August 2009

Azhar Mahmood took three wickets on his return tothe four-day side

Kent v Middlesex LV County Championship Division 2, Day one in Canterbury
By Mark Pennell
SOME 21 wickets fell in an action packed opening day to Canterbury Cricket Week as the batsmen from promotion-chasing Kent and basement side Middlesex all suffered a bad day at the crease.
Having dismissed Middlesex for a paltry 155, Kent were duly shot out for 141 in only 168 minutes to concede a first innings lead of 14.
Though Nick Compton (28) fell in the final 18 overs of the Middlesex second innings, there were no further alarms through to stumps at 7pm and at 50 for one the visitors will take a 64-run lead into day two.
Having lost the toss, Kent were batting by 2.35pm but were four wickets down within the hour on a day where wickets just continued to tumble, yet umpires Barry Dudleston and Michael Gough had no issues with the pitch and blamed poor batting and running for most of the drama.
The first home casualty came after only four overs when Skipper Rob Key, off strike at the Nackington Road End, saw Joe Denly drop the ball down at his feet. Key called for a risky run but bowler Steve Finn followed through to beat Key down the other end and run him out.
Four overs later Denly (3) miscued an attempted pull off Finn high to mid-off then, one run later, Geraint Jones“ attempted to run a short one from Tim Murtagh to third man but picked out a diving Dawid Malan in the gully.
The ground was stunned into near silence when Martin van Jaarsveld (9) played across the line against Murtagh to go leg before and make it 22 for four.
Finn gave way to Chris Silverwood at the Nackington Road End and the ex-Yorkshire seamer was soon celebrating when he enticed Sam Northeast (12) to drive outside off and edge through to keeper Ben Scott.
Darren Stevens and James Tredwell (1) survived three overs through to tea, but the collapse continued after the break when Tredwell (9) chopped on against the pace of Finn.
Then, in the next over, Azhar Mahmood (0) nicked a push drive against Murtagh through to the keeper to leave it 90 for eight.
Stevens held his patience for 105 minutes to score a 75-ball 50 with seven fours as he and Simon Cook took Kent into three figures after 32 overs, but with his score on 17 Cook played across to Kartik to go leg before then, to the last ball of the over, Stevens“ attempted reverse sweep bounced off his gloves to short leg to go for 67 and become last man out.
Kartik closed with three for 32, Murtagh 3-26 and Finn two for 38 on a day Kent“s batsmen will prefer to forget.
Earlier, Middlesex were skittled out in 36 overs with only one of their number, Gareth Berg, reaching a half-century as three wickets apiece for Azhar Mahmood and Amjad Khan coupled with three run outs caused havoc.
Opening bowler Amjad Khan started the rout with a new ball spell of two for 34, Azhar Mahmood and Simon Cook chipped in with a wicket apiece, while Middlesex added to their own downfall with a couple of needless run outs.
The visitor“s capitulation started as early as the fifth ball of a sunny morning after Middlesex had elected to bat and take first use of a firm pitch with good carry, but one with a hint of green in it.
The visitors had only three on the board when Sam Robson, in wanting to run a third out to deep mid-wicket, was sent back by opening partner Nick Compton only to be run out by Rob Key“s return to the non-striker“s end.
Six overs later Owais Shah (16), having hit three fours in his 22-ball cameo, played late on a full-length ball from Khan to be bowled and make it 30 for two.
In his next over, Khan had Compton (7) caught behind by a diving Geraint Jones after the right-hander fenced away from his body then, six runs later, acting Middlesex captain Eoin Morgan (5) prodded at an Azhar Mahmood leg-cutter with no discernable foot movement to be caught by van Jaarsveld at second slip.
The rot continued in the 12th over when left-handed Malan (2) risked a single to cover off the bowling of Mahmood only to be run out by Denly“s direct hit.
With only 70 on the board Scott (14) fenced at Cook“s third ball of the day from the Pavilion End to be caught at first slip by Kemp.
Seventh wicket partners Murali Kartik (28) and Berg survived through to lunch, but both were given lives by van Jaarsveld and Tredwell respectively when sharp slip chances went down.
The slide gathered momentum when, five balls after lunch, Kartik (28) nicked to first slip to give Mahmood a second scalp to end a seventh-wicket stand worth 52 in 10 overs then, four overs later, Mahmood made it three for 46 when he enticed Murtagh (4) to spoon a slower ball to Northeast at cover.
Silverwood slogged at a short one from Khan to sky to Stevens at cover point then the innings ended with its third run out when Northeast“s direct hit at the non-striker“s end accounted for Finn (0) leaving Berg unbeaten on 57 from 67 balls.
At the start of the day Kent made two changes to the side that beat Derbyshire on Monday, South African“s Wayne Parnell and Ryan McLaren were rested and Northeast and Azhar Mahmood both included.
Photo by ARPIcs