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Match Preview: Hampshire v Kent, LV= CC, 27 – 30 July

Thursday 26th July 2012

Men’s First Team

Hampshire v Kent, LV= County Championship Division Two

Ageas Bowl, Southampton, 27 – 30 July 2012

Kent make the journey to the south coast tomorrow to take on Hampshire in another crucial LV= County Championship match. The race for promotion from division two is hotting up so it is set to be a keenly contested fixture.

The hosts are sitting pretty in second place, having taken 105 points from ten games, but Kent are nicely positioned too – in fourth place – just five points behind Hampshire, with a game in hand. Victory for either side will put pressure on the league leaders, Derbyshire, who have opened up a 22 point gap at the top of the table.

Last week both sides were involved in four-day matches but they ended in contrasting circumstances. Bad weather again halted Rob Key’s men as they were thwarted by the rain in their home fixture against Glamorgan. Centuries from Brendan Nash and Darren Stevens lit up day one as the duo added 204 for the fifth wicket. Rain then wiped out most of day two before Kent declared on 456 for nine. Stevens also impressed with the ball, returning 4-77, but a ton from captain Mark Wallace and a well-executed 86 from Jim Allenby saw the Welshmen up to 389. That meant Kent failed to enforce the follow-on and any hopes of forcing a result were extinguished. There was still time, however, for Sam Northeast to follow-up his first innings fifty with a first century of the season as the captains shook hands on a draw with Kent steady at 168 for two.

Hampshire, on the other hand, came out on top in a thriller against Essex at Chelmsford. Contrived declarations ended up with the hosts requiring 360 to win on the final day, a total they fell agonisingly short of. All seemed lost when James Tomlinson took four wickets to reduce Essex to 222 for seven. However, Adam Wheater (98) and Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh (40) hauled them back into contention. With just three runs to win, Wheater, looking for the double glory of a century and victory, holed out to Sean Ervine at long-on as Tomlinson sealed a five-wicket haul and the narrowest of victories.

The two sides have already met in championship cricket this season but unfortunately the Tunbridge Wells Festival clash ended in an inevitable draw as rain once again came out on top. Batting first, the visitors posted 303 for eight with Liam Dawson making an unbeaten 134. A couple of forfeited innings then followed, setting Kent a final day target. At times the home side threatened to launch a winning bid, with Northeast scoring an attractive 79, but at 220 for six the captains shook hands on a draw as rain reigned supreme again.

Kent will have to perform better than the last time they visited Southampton if they are to keep the pressure on at the top. Back in 2010, when the Ageas Bowl was still known as the Rose Bowl, the home side defeated Kent by an innings and 111 runs in a division one fixture.

Kent batted first and struggled to deal with the skills of veteran seamer Dominic Cork. The former Hampshire captain took 5-50, as the visitors totalled 251, with only Joe Denly and Sam Northeast making impressions – with half-centuries. Hampshire then proceeded to make hay in reply. Former-Kent batsman Michael Carberry amassed 158 with South African Neil McKenzie also passing three figures as the hosts piled up 553 for seven to take a commanding lead. From that point Kent never really looked likely to stage a recovery and were dismissed for just 191 second time around. This time only Martin van Jaarsveld shone, with a well-crafted unbeaten 82 but Hampshire were dominant and sealed a comprehensive victory.

Team news will be available in due course