Zak Crawley, Jack Leaning fifties keep Kent afloat before Leicestershire top order implodes


Callum Parkinson takes four-for but Kent double score from 116 for 7

Leicestershire 66 for 5 (Stewart 2-10) trail Kent 232 (Leaning 75*, Crawley 50, Parkinson 4-68) by 166 runs

A last-wicket partnership of 68 helped Kent recover from 116 for 7 before the visitors picked up five wickets in the final session to finish firmly on top after an entertaining first day of the LV= Insurance County Championship fixture at the UptonSteel County Ground, Grace Road.

Kent captain Sam Billing’s decision to bat first raised eyebrows given the solid cloud cover, and Leicestershire’s veteran seamer Chris Wright certainly found plenty of movement through the air during a testing first spell, dismissing Jordan Cox in his first over with an outswinger that the Kent opener edged to Colin Ackermann at second slip.

Zak Crawley and Joe Denly responded positively, getting forward as much as possible and putting away the bad ball in compiling a partnership of 76 for the second wicket. Crawley was particularly impressive off his legs against the seamers, but looked less assured against the left-arm spin of Callum Parkinson, and having reached his 50 off 68 deliveries, the right-hander went back to pull a shorter delivery from the spinner over midwicket only to find it was a quicker ball that hurried on to him, beat the stroke and bowled him off his back leg.

Having made the breakthrough, Parkinson followed up in style, first by producing a delivery that turned sufficiently to take Denly’s edge, Ackermann taking a fine one-handed catch low to his right at slip, and then bowling Billings through the gate to send Kent in to lunch on 96 for 4.

Three more wickets followed quickly after the break. Ollie Robinson top-edged an attempted sweep at Parkinson to give Lewis Hill a simple catch at backward square, before Wright had Darren Stevens caught at second slip without scoring and then won a leg before decision against Grant Stewart with a full delivery.

Not for the first time this season, however, the Kent lower order dragged the innings back from the brink. Matt Milnes gave Jack Leaning solid support in a partnership of 42 for the eighth wicket before losing his leg stump to Ed Barnes, and although Nathan Gilchrist was run out without scoring James Logan saw Leaning through to his half-century and beyond before he too was run out.

A score that looked no more than competitive looked positively formidable by the close. Sam Evans was caught by Leaning at third slip after chasing a widish delivery from Milnes before Stewart took the key wicket of Ackermann with a fine delivery which moved away just enough to take the edge.

In gloomy light Stewart followed that by bowling Hill off the inside edge, Stevens had Hassan Azad caught behind and left-arm spinner Logan capped off the day by having Harry Swindells leg before with his first delivery.

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