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Kent v Surrey: Denly resists as Surrey spinners thrive

Tuesday 26th May 2015

Joe Denly's fourth half-century of the season was a rare highlight in Kent's second innings as Surrey ended day three as favourites to win the LV= County Championship derby at The County Ground, Beckenham.

Left-arm spinner Ansari took 4 for 58 as Kent slid from 97 for two to 204 all out, and at stumps on day three Surrey need a further 151 runs for victory at 44 for one.

Ansari was well supported by off spinner Gareth Batty, who took 3 for 40, and by fast bowler Matt Dunn, who top and tailed Kent’s second innings to finish with 3 for 61.

In truth, Kent were largely the authors of their own downfall, with several batsmen perishing to loose strokes as Surrey’s bowlers turned a closely-fought contest to their team’s advantage.

Only Joe Denly, with a classy 66, following his match-winning century at Bristol last week, stood firm as wickets tumbled before the opener was eventually seventh out when Batty spun an off break through his defences after tea.

Surrey had earlier added 42 runs to their overnight 250 for eight – 36 of them in a spirited last wicket stand between Tom Curran and Luke Fletcher – to earn themselves a slender 10-run first innings lead.

By the time Ansari span his mid-afternoon web, turning the ball down the slope and also flighting it intelligently, that small advantage had begun to assume significant proportions.

Once Denly had departed, Kent’s last three wickets were all lost to attacking strokes as Calum Haggett, Matt Coles and last man Ivan Thomas all perished swinging the bat in a bid to add as many runs as they could to Surrey’s fourth innings target.

The real damage to Kent’s chances was done when Ansari removed Fabian Cowdrey, Darren Stevens and Sam Billings in quick succession, in his fifth and sixth overs, to leave Kent on 115 for six.

Cowdrey gave him the charge and was stumped for nine, Stevens nicked to slip, and Billings looked dumbfounded when he lobbed the next ball off a leading edge straight to Dominic Sibley at short extra cover.

Ansari had begun the slide by having Northeast caught at slip for 26, after Dunn had produced a great ball to have Rob Key edging behind, off the shoulder of the bat, also for 26.

Daniel Bell-Drummond had departed earlier, leg-before for 9 to Dunn, and apart from Denly, only Haggett seemed to want to bat with any patience.

Coles hit one six and four fours in a 22-ball 29 but then sliced to cover after Haggett had failed to clear short mid-wicket.

Coles had Gareth Batty lbw for 37 in the morning’s third over, but Curran and Fletcher batted well for 26 not out and 23 respectively and their runs were invaluable in the context of the match.

Joe Denly, the Kent opener, said: "The pitch is a little bit slow and there's a bit of turn for the spinners but only one ball misbehaved all day – which got Rob Key out – and some of our dismissals this afternoon were on the soft side.

"It's frustrating because it is not too bad a pitch for batting and there's nothing out of the ordinary out there. We have to be better than that. But we will come out tomorrow and look to put them under pressure. Our bowlers have done a great job for us recently and we need a bit effort again."

Stevens, who won a leg-before appeal to dismiss Fletcher with his fifth ball of the morning session to give himself final figures of 4 for 48, struck again with his fourth ball in Surrey’s second innings more than six hours later.

Ansari’s fall, lbw for 8, gave Kent some hope for a win on the final day.

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