Ivan Thomas took career-best figures of 4-35 as bowlers dominated proceedings on day one of the Specsavers County Championship match at Leicester.
The hosts were dismissed for 220 before Kent made it to 55-3 when bad light stopped play with Sean Dickson, Daniel Bell-Drummond and Heino Kuhn all out cheaply.
Heavy cloud over the ground at the start of play ensured captain Sam Billings exercised the away team’s right to bowl first, and opening bowlers Harry Podmore and Darren Stevens made the ball swing from the start.
With the ball also nipping off a pitch previously used for a T20 game, it was hard going for the Leicestershire batsmen, and although Harry Dearden hit two fine drives through the covers, Stevens swung one back in to the young left-hander to have him leg before in the eighth over.
Grant Stewart dismissed Colin Ackermann leg before wicket with a delivery that swung late from middle and leg and would have gone on to hit off stump, and Thomas, in his first over, found extra bounce to bowl Mark Cosgrove with an inswinger that came off glove and bat handle and bounced on to the stumps.
In the final over before lunch leg-spinner Joe Denly found the edge of Ateeq Javid’s bat and Dickson held the catch at slip, but Leicestershire captain Paul Horton, who earlier in the day confirmed he had signed a two year extension to his contract until the end of the 2020 season, battled his way through to lunch.
The 35-year-old scored just two runs in the first hour, and was dropped by Kent debutant Oliver Robinson at fourth slip off Stewart when he had scored just three, but kept his head down and at the interval had reached 26, having faced 94 deliveries.
After lunch, Ned Eckersley and Horton had taken the score on to 114 before Podmore nipped one back off the seam to beat Eckersley’s back foot defensive shot and win a leg before decision.
Podmore’s next delivery knocked back Ben Raine’s off-stump, and two overs later Horton, having fought his way through to 49 off 119 deliveries, tried to guide a delivery from the former Middlesex seamer to third man only to get an inside edge on to his stumps, leaving the Foxes struggling on 119-7.
Zak Chappell and Callum Parkinson added 29 for the eighth wicket before Parkinson edged Ivan Thomas to wicket-keeper Sam Billings, but Chappell, looking to be positive, hit four boundaries in going to 31 when he was hit on the helmet by a Thomas bouncer and retired hurt with the score on 163.
It was subsequently confirmed the concussion protocol had been invoked and he would play no further part in the game, with Dieter Klein replacing him.
To Kent’s frustration, Abbas and Gavin Griffiths added a further 39 runs for the ninth wicket, and with Klein also chipping in, Leicestershire’s total of 220 did not look uncompetitive.
That was certainly the case after Dickson edged an expansive drive at Raine and was caught by Cosgrove at first slip.
Raine was also a factor in the dismissal of Kuhn, taking a fine catch falling forward at gully after the South African edged Abbas, while Bell-Drummond edged Abbas to wicket-keeper Eckersley.
Denly survived a huge leg before shout off Raine before the umpires took the players off the field for bad light, with 13 overs remaining in the day.