Centuries from Dominic Sibley and Will Rhodes left Warwickshire strongly-placed against Kent in the Specsavers County Championship Division Two title-showdown at Edgbaston.
Both openers struck their fourth championship centuries of the season as the home side amassed 380, securing a first innings lead of 213.
Sibley made 119 from 287 balls with 12 fours (the former Surrey player’s third century in four innings) while Rhodes scored 110 from 148 balls with 16 fours and a six.
Joe Denly (three for 48) and Harry Podmore (three for 67) did most to restrict the deficit to a point at which their side at least has a toehold in the game.
Kent then reached the close on 38 for one in a match they now need to win to take the Division Two title.
Having taken more bonus points than Kent from the game, Warwickshire will finish top if the match is drawn so Kent need to bat very big second time around to give themselves a chance of stealing the title in spectacular fashion.
Warwickshire resumed on the second morning on 148 without loss and the opening stand reached 176 before Rhodes left a straight ball from Grant Stewart and was bowled.
Ian Bell’s departure, lbw to Podmore, brought Jonathan Trott to the crease in his farewell game in first-class cricket. Kent’s players gave the former England player a guard of honour as he reached the middle but their hospitality ended there.
After 26 minutes, in which he scored eight runs from 13 balls, he was on his way, brilliantly caught by Darren Stevens at mid-wicket off Podmore.
While Sibley’s concentration remained high after lunch, with the pitch starting to turn, Adam Riley dismissed Sam Hain and Tim Ambrose lbw and Denly trapped Keith Barker the same way.
Sibley’s 383-minute stay was then ended by a slip catch by Sean Dickson off Matt Henry on the stroke of tea.
Podmore ousted Olly Stone with the fifth lbw of the innings but ninth-wicket pair Chris Wright (38, 78 balls, five fours) and Jeetan Patel (32, 47 balls three fours) added 55 in 12 overs to lift the lead over 200.
With 15 overs to bat before stumps, Kent openers Dickson and Zak Crawley negotiated 12.5 of them before the former edged Stone to Sibley at second slip.