Match Preview: Lancashire v Kent
Lancashire return home on the back of a fabulous come-from-behind four-wicket victory over Northamptonshire at Wantage Road last week, when they recovered to win after conceding a first-innings lead of 103.
Lancashire v Kent
LV= Insurance County Championship, Division One
Monday July 25 - Thursday July 28, 2022, 11am
Emirates Old Trafford
Josh Bohannon starred with a century in pursuit of 278, securing win number four from 10 games. Indian overseas all-rounder Washington Sundar also enjoyed a superb debut, claiming five wickets in the first innings with his spinners before finishing off the chase with an unbeaten 34.
It maintains the pressure on leading duo Hampshire and Surrey, who also both won last week. Lancashire sit on 156 points, while Hampshire have 173 and Surrey 187.
This week’s opponents Kent were also victors, beating defending champions Warwickshire at Edgbaston to drag the Bears into a relegation battle.
This is the final fixture before the break until early September for the Royal London Cup and the Hundred.
Lancashire are aiming to complete the double over Kent having started the season with a 10-wicket win at Canterbury in mid-April.
Kent have won two of 10 matches this season, losing three and drawing five. They sit sixth in the Division One table on 109 points.
Their victory at Edgbaston, by 177 runs, has eased relegation fears, with former England batter Joe Denly hitting a second-innings 141.
Kent fielded two overseas seamers in New Zealander Matt Henry and Indian Navdeep Saini, the latter on debut for the county. He claimed five wickets in the first innings at Edgbaston and two in the second.
Kent will be captained by fringe England wicketkeeper batter Sam Billings, who claimed 13 catches behind the stumps in the match against Warwickshire.
Opener Ben Compton, who scored two hundreds in the match when the two sides met at Canterbury in April, is the leading run-scorer in either division of the Championship with 1,117 runs, including four hundreds.
Seamer Matt Milnes is their leading wicket-taker with 21.
Opposition player to watch
India seamer Navdeep Saini has signed a short-term deal with Kent to play in up to three Championship matches, including this, and also in the Royal London Cup.
The 29-year-old made an impressive debut against the Bears at Edgbaston.
He made his international debut in a T20 in August 2019 and has since gone on to play in all three formats for his country, including two Test Matches in their famous series win in Australia in January 2021. He claimed four wickets.
Saini has taken 155 wickets in 54 first-class appearances since debuting for Delhi in 2013, including a best of 6-32.
Lancashire met stiff final day resistance in the form of opener Ben Compton back in April before closing out a 10-wicket victory to start 2022 in grand style.
The Red Rose’s first-innings 506 included 155 for Steven Croft and 124 for Dane Vilas, the pair sharing a fourth-wicket stand of 205 from 80-3 on day one.
Croft also shared 144 for the fifth with debutant Phil Salt, who made 97, as Lancashire continued their early dominance from 295-4 on day two. Spinner Hamidullah Qadri finished with six wickets for the hosts.
Matt Parkinson (4-66) and George Balderson (3-14) then put the skids under the hosts as they were bowled out for 260 on day three before, having been asked to follow-on, slipping deeper into trouble at 82-7 early on day four.
Kent had started the final day on 81-6. It was a matter of when and not if Lancashire could wrap up victory.
And so it proved. But not without alarm.
Compton, having scored an unbeaten 104 in the first innings, held firm for 115 more, sharing 139 for the eighth wicket with Qadri (77).
When Kent were finally bowled out for 279 after tea, including three more wickets for the leg-spin of Parkinson and three for Pakistan overseas quick Hassan Ali on debut, Lancashire needed 34 to win.
Openers Balderson and Luke Wells knocked off the runs with a minimum of fuss.
What they said
Glen Chapple is backing his Lancashire players to maintain the pressure on the Division One’s leading duo, Surrey and Hampshire, over the next four days.
Coach Chapple was full of praise for his players as they hit back from a slow start at Northampton to claim their fourth win of the season.
Lancashire are now 17 points behind Hampshire in second and 31 behind table-toppers Surrey, with all three teams having four fixtures still to play between now and the end of September.
“We’re delighted that the lads fought back from a weak position in the game and showed brilliant character and great skill,” said the former all-rounder of the Northampton win.
“It was superb application on a used pitch to chase down 278, and it was a brilliant performance.
“Every game is a big game for us now. We just have to keep trying to win.
“We’re a little way behind Surrey and Hampshire, but we’re playing good cricket and we’ve just got to keep going.”
After a difficult run of form, Josh Bohannon bounced back brilliantly at Wantage Road with a second-innings century which underpinned the run chase.
Chapple added: “It’s good when you see players do it on a tough pitch. It wasn’t easy to bat on. It’s been used before, and it was in the bowlers’ favour.
“But Josh is a good player, and that will do him the world of good.”
Luke Wells needs only nine runs to reach 9,000 in his first-class career, while his opening partner Keaton Jennings requires 101 more to post 3,000 for Lancashire alone in first-class cricket.