Bohannon and Wells lead Lancs fightback
Josh Bohannon and Luke Wells led an excellent Lancashire fightback on the third day of this LV= County Championship match against Kent as the Red Rose side produced a great batting performance to reach the close on 377-5 to lead by 252 runs.
Bohannon posted his sixth first-class century while Wells fell agonisingly two runs short of a ton as the Red Rose batters put their first innings disappointment behind them to give stand-in skipper Steven Croft the opportunity of a declaration at some point tomorrow that gives hope of pushing for victory.
It was a complete contrast to the first two days of this match that saw wickets tumble as the pitch and overhead conditions eased considerably today.
Lancashire batters’ made excellent progress on the third morning with two good partnerships virtually wiping off the visitors’ 123-run first-innings advantage by lunch.
Wells and Keaton Jennings, resuming on two without loss, took the total to 54 before Jennings departed in similar fashion to his first innings dismissal when edging Nathan Gilchrist to Jack Leaning at second slip for 14.
Bohannon, who survived a sharp caught and bowled chance off Gilchrist when on 11, continued Lancashire’s positive approach to help Wells steer the Red Rose to 109-1 at the break just 16 runs behind Kent with a fifty partnership from 98 balls.
Wells’ aggressive approach saw the left handed opener reach his half century from 69 balls and it was a testament to the batters success that by lunch Kent had turned to their part-time bowlers with Joe Denly and Daniel Bell-Drummond summoned into the attack.
Bohannon drove and cut Matt Henry for two boundaries immediately after lunch to put Lancashire ahead and that set the tempo for the afternoon with Wells twice straight driving Gilchrist for four in the same over on his way to a nicely constructed and composed innings of 98.
In fact Wells looked destined to reach three figures before he edged a wide Navdeep Saini delivery to Leaning at second slip to break a 117-run partnership with Lancashire now 46 runs ahead.
By then Bohannon had reached his fifty in style with a trademark drive through mid-on for four from his 90th delivery and he progressed steadily and with few alarms – apart from being felled by a painful low blow from a Navdeep Saini delivery - to reach his third first-class century of the season soon after tea from 186 balls with 14 fours.
It was another assured performance by the Boltonian full of well-timed shots and exemplified by a handsome drive for four through cover off Henry that brought up the hundred partnership with Croft from 202 balls moments later.
With little help forthcoming from the pitch today the visitors’ resorted to restricting the scoring as much as possible with a combination of defensive fields and trying to bowl as straight as possible.
Surprisingly the delivery that did the most came from an unlikely source when medium pacer Daniel Bell-Drummond got a ball to rear up off a good length to surprise Bohannon – on 94 at the time – and it’s possible this used pitch may still have a few surprises in it tomorrow.
Croft played a great supporting role in making 41 off 104 balls - included just three fours – in a 109-run partnership for the third wicket before being beaten when Henry, armed with the second new ball, nipped one back to hit middle stump leaving Lancashire on 280-3.
And the tiring Kent attack suffered further punishment as Rob Jones’ positive approach during the final session helped Bohannon add 73 runs in 14 overs for the fourth wicket with Jones striking an excellent unbeaten 53.
Bohannon edged Grant Stewart behind after reaching a fabulous 134 in five and a half hours having faced 239 balls, Washington Sundar was lbw for 10 to Leaning, leaving George Lavelle at the crease (3 not out) alongside Jones at stumps for what potentially could be an exciting and fascinating final day.
“I think we’ve set ourselves in a position to win this game,” said century-maker Josh Bohannon.
“From where we were in the first innings that is a massive positive to take from that.
“It’s a big morning tomorrow to set it up. Hopefully our bowlers can extract the movement from the pitch and we can get ten wickets tomorrow.
“I think the pitch has got a bit flatter as it’s dried out. But there’s still enough there with the cracks and a bit of spin for our bowlers.
“All we can do is try our best and give ourselves the time we need. Hopefully we’ve get the score we want and the bowlers to back it up.”
Bohannon has hit a good run of form in recent games and he added:
“I’ve felt good for a number of weeks.”
“I had a bit of a lull in the middle of the summer which is frustrating but I always felt good and tried not too high or too low.
“The process has stayed the same and thankfully I’m now reaping the rewards for the hard work in the nets.
“Long may that continue.”
Photos: Barry Mitchell