Hampshire boost promotion hopes

Hampshire landed their fifth win of the LV= County Championship Division Two campaign and bolstered their promotion hopes by sweeping Kent aside by 196 runs at the Spitfire Ground.

Resuming on their gloomy overnight position of 95 for two – still a massive 406 runs shy of a very unlikely victory target – Kent lost three wickets in the first session of the final day to leave Hampshire scenting their win by lunch.

Having added only a single to his overnight 43, Daniel Bell-Drummond edged a defensive push behind off Matt Coles, who trapped nightwatchman Adam Riley lbw on the back foot for 10 in his next set of six.

Fabian Cowdrey scored a bright 21 before blotting his copybook with a rash pull shot against Chris Wood that skied to substitute fielder Sean Terry running in from deep square leg.

Darren Stevens lifted home spirits just before lunch by clubbing three sixes off the slow left-arm spin of Liam Dawson to send Kent into the interval on 187 for five.

The hosts’ task became much tougher following Sam Northeast’s run out for 21 early in the afternoon session.

Backing up as Stevens called for a quick single, Northeast was sent back only to be sent packing by Jimmy Adams’ direct hit that uprooted middle stump.

Sam Billings should have followed immediately afterwards when, with his score on nought, he advanced down the pitch to Liam Dawson only to find a leading edge that looped to Coles at short mid-off but, inexplicably, the fielder fumbled the simplest of chances.

He made amends for the blunder and safely pocketed another top-edge when Stevens miscued an attempted sweep off Dawson to short fine leg.

Stevens scored 74 from 81 balls, including seven fours and four sixes, for his part in a stand of 63 in 14.2 overs in tandem with Billings.

The young Kent keeper also fell sweeping, the arm-ball from Danny Briggs taking the shoulder of the bat for James Vince to take a stunning diving catch at short third man.

Mitch Claydon nicked to slip without troubling the scorers and although Doug Bollinger – on his farewell four-day appearance – flung the bat for a lusty, unbeaten 33 it was all over once left-armer James Tomlinson skittled Calum Hagget with Kent on 304 and still 196 shy of the target.

Having seen his side bank 23 points to move back up to second place in the table, Hampshire skipper Adams said: “I’m delighted how we’ve gone over the four days.

“It was a decent pitch overall but we needed that great partnership between Chris Wood and Sean Ervine on the first day that dug us out of a hole.

“Then, the way we bowled in their first innings was exceptional and that gave us the platform for a first-innings lead. It was a great effort from everyone.

“For Chris to come back from injury and perform as well as he has with bat and ball – a fifty followed by career-best bowling figures – was excellent. It was great to have his energy around the group.

“Overall, it was a great four days.”

Kent banked only three points for the comprehensive defeat in this 163rd Canterbury Cricket Week fixture – their first defeat in any form of cricket since a reverse in the NatWest T20 Blast against Essex Eagles at Colchester on July 12.

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