Hampshire 191 and 108 for 5 (McManus 50*) lead Kent 170 (Currie 3-42) by 129 runs
Some 13 wickets fell during an enthralling day as Kent and Hampshire battled for ascendancy on the second day of their Bob Willis Trophy South Group clash in Canterbury.
Though Kent are well placed having reduced the visitors to 108 for 5 in their second innings, the errant hosts will be angered by six dropped catches – blunders that may yet allow Hampshire to wriggle free in this hard-fought game.
Hampshire, batting again by 3.35pm, having banked a first-innings lead of 21 and with 40 overs remaining, lost Ian Holland to the 15th ball of their second innings, trapped leaden-footed and lbw on the crease by Harry Podmore.
Podmore celebrated in his next over by removing Tom Alsop. Aiming to work an in-swinger through the leg side, the left-hander was snaffled at third slip off a thick outside edge.
In the tea over, former Kent skipper Sam Northeast completed a miserable return to his old stomping ground by falling cheaply to Darren Stevens for the second time in the game. Working across the line of an off-cutter, Northeast departed leg before for two.
Two balls after the resumption, Felix Organ bagged a pair when his crab-like defensive push pegged back leg stump via an inside edge as Stevens claimed two in the over and Organ for the second time in as many days.
Joe Weatherley should have departed four balls later, but his edged prod against Podmore was downed by Zak Crawley at second slip – Kent’s fourth drop of the game. Two runs on, Crawley made amends, hanging on to a low edge from Weatherley off a Podmore out-swinger.
Kent’s cordon grassed a fifth chance when Jack Leaning spilled a Lewis McManus tickle at third slip off the bowling of Grant Stewart.
McManus, who was dropped on 14, watched as his partner Tom Scriven was given a life on 36 when Crawley downed another tough, low chance at second slip off Stevens. That allowed Hampshire’s sixth-wicket pair to add an unbroken 85 through to stumps – comfortably the highest stand of the match to date – with McManus not out on 50 and Scriven on 42.
Resuming on their parlous overnight score of 21 for 2, Kent’s seemingly powerful batting line-up proceeded to make a hash of their response losing new Test star, Crawley, to the first ball of the morning.
Driving at a full-length off-cutter from Scott Currie, Crawley was sent packing lbw by umpire Billy Taylor for an eight-ball duck, then nightwatchman Matt Milnes followed, caught and bowled by Currie following a top-edged pull.
Though the occasional delivery misbehaved off the pitch, Kent’s fifth-wicket partners Heino Kuhn and Leaning maintained positive intent. Dispatching anything loose, they added 34 until Leaning sparred at a Scriven out-swinger and nicked to the keeper.
Hampshire’s astute medium-pacers Holland and Scriven excelled in tandem, and the latter squared up Oli Robinson with one that lifted, left and took the edge for a looping catch to second slip as Kent lunched on 101 for 6.
Kuhn, solid for his 34 runs, drove rashly on the up to be caught at extra cover off Brad Wheal then Stevens, making a rare appearance at No. 9 in Kent’s order, fell for an eight-ball duck.
Wheal enticed Grant Stewart to pull a bouncer straight to square leg, bringing together Marcus O’Riordan and Podmore for Kent’s best partnership.
Last man Podmore hit out lustily while O’Riordan played each ball on its merits in a stand worth 47 off 62 balls. Their fun ended with the total on 170 when Mason Crane’s top-spinner snared top-scorer O’Riordan lbw for 37, leaving Podmore unbowed on 30.
Currie returned 3 for 42, while Wheal, Holland and Scriven bagged two wickets apiece.