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Kent v Leicestershire: Bell-Drummond ton pushes Kent close in run chase

Wednesday 6th May 2015

Men’s First Team

A fine Daniel Bell-Drummond century almost propelled Kent to an unlikely win in a see-saw LV= County Championship opener at a wind-swept Canterbury on Wednesday.

Having been set a victory target of 315, Kent reached 273 for seven, 42 runs short after three late wickets pinned Kent's chase back.

The final day had started promptly despite overnight rain and Kent made brisk work of picking up Leicestershire's two remaining second innings wickets for a total of 196.

Ivan Thomas had Rob Taylor caught overhead at slip by Matt Coles, who then ripped out Charlie Shreck's middle stump to conclude the innings at 11.12am. Thomas finished with career-best figures of four for 48.

After rain forced an early lunch at 12.30pm and the loss of 18 overs, Kent set off on the unlikely pursuit at 1.10pm, but the initial blows were landed by Leicestershire's former Kent seamer, Shreck.

The 37-year-old bowled Joe Denly, Kent's first innings top scorer, before trapping Kent captain Rob Key leg before, after umpire Steve O'Shaughnessy upheld a concerted appeal.

Two more overs were lost and groundstaff were swept off their feet as they fought to remove the sheets protecting the square from a brief shower.

Kent returned to steady the ship through Daniel Bell-Drummond and Brendan Nash during a third-wicket stand of 105 in 32.5 overs.

Former England Under-19 batsman Bell-Drummond notched his maiden 50 of the summer from 120 balls but Nash, in looking to work a single to leg for his half-century, perished leg before to Taylor to make it 145 for three.

With Bell-Drummond finding his form, he and Sam Northeast upped the run-rate tempo and, despite a miserly 10-over stint by Shreck, took Kent into the final hour needing another 139 off 20 overs for a famous win.

Northeast's dismissal for 37 – to the 14th lbw decision of the match – threatened to derail the Kent chase, but Darren Stevens emerged from the pavilion to breathe new life into the pursuit.

The right-hander started to find the ropes with increasing regularity against his native county and, with 10 overs remaining Kent required a further 82 with six wickets still in hand.

Though happy to give Stevens the strike, Bell-Drummond celebrated his first hundred of the summer from 186 balls and with 13 fours. He perished soon after, caught on the ropes in trying to clear the third man boundary off McKay for 103.

With Kent still 62 runs shy, Shreck returned to have Stevens (34) caught behind. The batsman clearly disagreed with O'Shaughnessy's decision, but realistically, Kent's lingering hopes of victory went with him.

With 48 required from four overs Matt Coles (two) thrashed at a wide one to be caught behind off Shreck to give Leicestershire a seventh wicket and renewed hope, albeit briefly.

Sam Billings throttled back thereafter and played out time with Mitch Claydon and the sides shook hands on a draw at 6.23pm.

In the end, the 20 overs lost to rain on the fourth morning had taken their toll but Kent did extend their ten-year unbeaten home run over the Foxes. Kent’s century-maker Daniel Bell Drummond said: “We haven’t gone too well as a team to date; our cricket has been a bit sporadic in all three games, so it was good to stop the rot here with a draw and great for me to get to three figures for the first time this season. “It was a good run-chase in the end, we very nearly got across the line, and we came off feeling we’d played in a good game of cricket. Yes, we need to start winning games, but this was a performance we can work from and push on from.”

Click here for the scorecard