Lancashire 327 (Bohannon 113, Hurst 76*, Balderson 54) and 126 for 0 (Wells 69*, Jennings 52*) trail Kent 494 (Denly 136, Compton 95, Balderson 4-69) by 41 runs
Kent’s future in Division One of LV= Insurance County Championship hung in the balance on Thursday night, after Lancashire reached 126 without loss in their second innings, a deficit of 41.
Although Kent hauled in seven bonus points, they need to at least match Middlesex’s result against Nottinghamshire or they will be relegated and, with that game also looking too close to call, a gut-wrenching final day is in the offing.
Kent had begun day three in a significantly happier place than they’d been 24 hours earlier, on 345 for four on day two in reply to Lancashire’s first-innings score of 327 and with Denly unbeaten on 105.
The partnership between Denly and Harry Finch had reached exactly 150 when the latter was bowled for 44 by George Balderson.
Lancashire’s attack was already weakened by the absence of Jack Blatherwick, who’d bowled two beamers in an over on day two and their discipline continued to waver.
Denly finally went when he was lbw to Balderson and Hartley bowled Joey Evison for 12, exposing the tail.
Balderson sent Nathan Gilchrist’s middle-stump cartwheeling for a ten-ball duck, but Aron Nijjar and Matt Quinn took Kent to 447 for eight at lunch.
Quinn was on 22 when he was caught off a Bailey no-ball, but he was caught behind two deliveries later without adding to his score.
Nijjar, however, hit the next ball for six and had made 42 before he holed out to Bailey and was caught by Blatherwick, ending the innings.
At that point the most optimistic scenario was a victory inside three days, but Lancashire’s openers Wells and Jennings had raced to 55 without loss when an early tea was taken due to a brief shower and by then the mood around the Spitfire Ground was beginning to darken again.
Kent supporters have already seen this film too many times this season: hefty first-innings leads were squandered against Surrey and Notts and the openers eroded the deficit offering barely a chance.
When Yuzvendra Chahal did find Jennings’ edge he was dropped by Leaning when he was on 42 and bad light stopped play with 11 overs remaining, at precisely the moment the news came through that Middlesex had bowled out Nottinghamshire for a first-innings deficit of 18. Fans who suffer from high blood pressure would be well advised to steer clear of the St. Lawrence tomorrow.