Bailey takes six wickets as Kent build lead
Kent built on their overnight advantage to put themselves firmly in the driving seat on a day of fluctuating fortunes despite Tom Bailey's six-wicket haul for the Red Rose.
Day two of this LV= County Championship match ended with the visitors ahead by 123 runs with Lancashire two without loss in their second innings.
Two century partnerships between Joe Denly and Jack Leaning during the afternoon and Leaning and Grant Stewart in the evening built on a five-wicket haul by Matt Henry in a sensational morning session that saw nine wickets fall.
Henry had four balls of his interrupted over from the previous evening to bowl when play began on time at 11am and the New Zealand international grabbed two wickets in three deliveries to give the visitors the perfect start.
Washington Sundar played no shot to the second delivery of the day only to see the ball jag back and take out his off stump while George Lavelle edged his second ball to Zak Crawley at first slip.
Buoyed by that success Henry ran amok as the ball seamed and swung in overcast conditions similar to the first day, taking 5-14 in 29 balls and adding Steven Croft, Tom Bailey and Luke Wood to his tally in quick succession with some near unplayable deliveries.
When Will Williams fiercely cut a half-tracker from Nathan Gilchrist straight to Daniel Bell-Drummond at point, Lancashire had been bowled out for 145 with six wickets falling for 33 runs in exactly 11 overs inside the first hour.
But that was not the end of the morning carnage as Kent made a terrible start to their reply, losing three wickets for 12 runs.
Ben Compton was caught at point for 0 by Washington via a leading edge after trying to work Bailey towards midwicket in the first over; Williams trapped Bell-Drummond lbw for 5 and Zak Crawley fell to a brilliant diving catch by Luke Wood off Bailey at square leg to make a 27-ball duck.
By contrast the afternoon was an ocean of relative calm as Denly and Leaning dug in to steady the innings with a determined, resolute partnership that slowly but steadily prospered in the afternoon sunshine.
Just when it looked like the session would go wicket-less – in sharp contrast to the morning mayhem – Lancashire made a breakthrough to end a partnership that had added 109 priceless runs
It was slightly fortuitous; Denly, playing in just his fifth Championship match of the season, had produced a gem of an innings for Kent showing great technique and application in challenging circumstances, but his change of mind about playing a shot outside off against Bailey was too late to prevent a nick going to a delighted Lavelle.
That left the visitors on 120-4 at tea but before they could add to that total two wickets fell in the first over after the break bowled by Bailey.
Jordan Cox top-edged the first delivery straight to Wood at midwicket and Ollie Robinson, having travelled up to Manchester today to take over as replacement wicketkeeper from Sam Billings after the Kent skipper tested positive for Covid, was lbw third ball.
Stewart helped Leaning take the visitors well into the lead with an attacking approach that yielded the first six of the match and brought the Italian international a 62-ball fifty in a partnership worth 103 runs.
Leaning, who Lancashire dropped three times albeit from difficult opportunities, looked set to cap an excellent knock with a century only to fall ten short after edging Jack Morley to Wells at slip late in the day.
Bailey claimed his 11th five-wicket haul when Henry edged down the leg side to Lavelle for 16, Williams bowled Gilchrist for 5 and Bailey finished with 6-64 when last man Saini was caught at mid-off leaving Stewart unbeaten on 64 in Kent’s 270 all out.
Jennings and Wells survived two overs before the close but Kent are in a strong position after the second day.
“It was an interesting day. I think we would have liked to have bowled them out for a bit less but we would have liked to have scored more runs as well,” said Tom Bailey following his second best bowling return in first-class cricket today.
“The wicket did a lot this morning,” he added. “Once the sun came out it flattened out a bit.
“The surface has definitely got more abrasive as well so it wasn’t as easy to bat later in the day. It was nice to bowl on today.”
Kent showed today it is possible to get scores on this pitch and Bailey added:
“Hopefully our batters can out in a performance tomorrow and make a game of it. If they can get past the first ten to fifteen overs of the new ball hopefully they can kick on from there.
“I think it will spin more in the fourth innings and we’ve got two good spinners in our team.
“We did it last week at Northampton. We had a hundred deficit and turned that around so the boys do know how to win from that position.
“The experience and confidence going into tomorrow knowing we did it last week will help and there’s no reason why we can’t do it again.”
Photos: Barry Mitchell