After Calvin Harrison’s legspin provides a slim first-inning lead, openers prosper.
Nottinghamshire’s 350 and 176 for 1 (Slater 87*) are 210 runs ahead of Kent’s 316 (Finch 73, Harrison 4-28).
Nottinghamshire put themselves in a position to dictate the final day’s terms as openers Ben Slater and Haseeb Hameed built on a small first-innings lead to leave their side 210 ahead with nine wickets in hand at the end of day three of their LV= Insurance County Championship match against Kent.
Before Hameed was out for 45 six overs before the end, the pair had shared a 131-run partnership, Nottingham’s best for the first wicket this season. Slater’s unbeaten 87 puts him 13 runs short of his second century of the match, with Will Young on 32 from 19 balls as Nottinghamshire finished on 176 for one.
Earlier, despite strong efforts from Harry Finch (73) and Joe Evison (49), Kent lost what appeared to be a promising position in reply to Nottinghamshire’s first-innings 350 by losing their last five wickets for 23 runs to finish at 316 all out.
Calvin Harrison finished with a career-high four for 28 despite playing only his seventh first-class match, and Brett Hutton maintained his lead as Division One’s leading wicket-taker with three for 76, despite Jamie Porter taking ten for Essex against Hampshire.
Kent were well placed at 102 for two when rain forced them off at tea on Wednesday, but their morning started badly when Ben Geddes, the loanee from Surrey who had played well for his 36, was out in the second over, caught by Harrison at second slip chasing a wide ball from Hutton that found some extra bounce.
Then came the healing process. Nottinghamshire might have expected a period of increased life from a pitch that had given the seamers plenty of encouragement over the first two days, but neither Hutton nor Dane Paterson could dominate the scoreboard in their opening stints.
Finch and Jack Leaning settled in well, and it took an unusual departure shortly before lunch to prevent the fourth-wicket combo from forming a significant partnership.
It came after Harrison made his first appearance in the assault, and a stunned Leaning was out to his second delivery, receiving a tiny edge that then weirdly rocketed far into the air off wicketkeeper Tom Moores’ right pad. It soared over Mullaney’s head at slip, but the Nottinghamshire captain caught it on the way down.
Despite their injury issues, Kent steadily eroded the advantage Nottinghamshire appeared to have gained with what appeared to be a solid score on a very risky ground.
Kent’s prediction at Wednesday’s close that 350 might be a par total looked like wishful thinking, but Nottinghamshire struggled to create many opportunities when Luke Fletcher went off the field on day two.
Alex Blake fell to the fifth delivery with the second new ball as Hutton increased his season tally to 48—his best return in a first-class season—but as Finch and Evison added 75 in 18 overs, it appeared Kent’s confidence had not been misplaced after all.
However, things changed quickly as Paterson, who had bowled 17 fruitless overs from the pavilion end, switched to the Radcliffe Road end, and Harrison returned for a second session.
First, Finch, who had reached fifty for the third time in three games since Kent’s injury crisis opened up a spot in the senior side, made a rare error and paid the price, offering no shot as Paterson pulled one back to clip his off stump.
The South African then bowled Evison in his next over with another nip-backer, which was good enough to complete the job even though Evison tried to keep it out.
Harrison then induced a mistake for deep extra cover from Matt Quinn, and Kent went from 293 for five to 308 for eight. After a few overs, they were all out and trailing by 34 runs, with the leg-spinner finishing the session with two in two deliveries as Arshdeep holed out to deep midwicket and Arafat Bhuiyan offered him a rigid front pad.
By the evening, the pitch appeared to have settled down, and Slater and Hameed exposed the limitations of Kent’s attack, which lacks a front-line spinner, bowling largely untroubled, at least in terms of chances offered, for nearly 35 overs before Hameed was caught behind off an injudicious slash at a shortish wide delivery from Arshdeep Singh.
Kent’s overrate was moderate, but it might still hurt them later in the season when extra points are crucial. They have a chance to improve on day four, but they are currently at minus three. If it translates to docked points, even a draw tonight would keep them in the relegation zone.
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