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Kent take maximum points to keep promotion hopes alive

A patient display by the Kent attack secured maximum points against Gloucestershire to keep promotion hopes alive with victory in the Specsavers County Championship match at Bristol.

New signing Hardus Viljoen and veteran all-rounder Darren Stevens picked up three wickets each as experienced New Zealand batsman Hamish Marshall led the home resistance with a gritty 118 before Kent secured victory by an innings and 69 runs.

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The visitors took 24 points to close the gap on Essex at the top of the Second Division and their hosts, beaten for a third successive Championship game, just two.

Kent skipper Sam Northeast said: "Knowing that Essex had won last night was interesting for the guys because it meant we had to come out and win today.

"That meant a bit of extra pressure, but we are playing some seriously good cricket at the moment. The bowling attack keeps performing and Hardus Viljoen has made one of the best debuts I can ever recall seeing from an overseas player.

"Taking four wickets last night when overhead conditions helped was a big bonus for us. It was hard work today because Hamish Marshall played exceptionally well, but we kept plugging away and we are in a good place at the moment."

South African seamer Hardus Viljoen took two of the last-day wickets to fall for match figures of eight for 121 on his Kent debut, while Darren Stevens finished with three for 47 and five wickets in the game.

Gloucestershire were comprehensively outplayed on a docile pitch, but could take a modicum of satisfaction from taking the match into the final session.

They lost only one wicket before lunch, that of Phil Mustard, who drove loosely at a wide ball from Mitchell Claydon and departed for nine to a straightforward catch at point with the total on 69.

With the sun shining and the pitch placid, Kent’s bowlers had to work hard as Jack Taylor joined Marshall in seeing their side through to lunch, which was taken at 94 for five, the latter unbeaten on 49.

The afternoon session saw Marshall quickly go his second half-century of the match, off 116 balls, with 7 fours. Again he gave his team-mates a lesson in application on the slow wicket.

Taylor helped take the score to 115 before being bounced out by Matt Coles. Attempting a hook shot, he gloved a simple catch to wicketkeeper Sam Billings.

Kent also attempted to bowl short to Marshall with less success as he responded with a series of boundaries, cutting, pulling and upper-cutting with relish.

Craig Miles made 15 in helping to move to total to 158 before his back-foot defensive shot was beaten by Viljoen and he was bowled.

Marshall was dropped on 89, advancing down the pitch and driving a difficult return chance with bowler James Tredwell spilled, diving to his right.

That was all the luck Marshall needed to move to his hundred off 163 balls, with 18 fours, the latest off the back foot to third-man to bring up three figures.

He lost another partner when David Payne, on 14, went down the pitch to Tredwell and was bowled when he would have been stumped yards out of his ground.

Tea was taken at 210 for eight and, with two runs added in the last session, Kent took the new ball. It quickly accounted for Marshall, pinned lbw by a full delivery from Coles after an innings occupying just over five hours.

The match ended when Liam Norwell was caught behind for 24 aiming an expansive shot off Viljoen, with a possible 27 overs remaining.


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Reckon@Hardus_Viljenjoyed his@kentcricketdebut?! Just the 8️⃣ wickets & a maximum point win!