Cricket: Kent closing in on success at Somerset

PUBLISHED: 19:01 07 April 2019 | UPDATED: 19:01 07 April 2019

Cricket balls for sale at The Spitfire Ground, Canterbury (pic Gareth Fuller/PA)

Cricket balls for sale at The Spitfire Ground, Canterbury (pic Gareth Fuller/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

Mitch Claydon took his wicket-tally in the match to eight as Kent closed in on likely victory over Somerset on the third day of the Specsavers County Championship clash at Taunton.

By the close of a day of fluctuating fortunes, the home side were 171-7 in their second innings, leading by only 133. Claydon added 3-30 to his first innings figures of 5-46, well supported by Darren Stevens (2-34) and fellow seamers Harry Podmore and Matt Milnes.

In a match yet to feature a half-century from any batsman, Steve Davies (39) and Tom Abell (30) gave Somerset a modicum of hope before George Bartlett (35 not out) and Craig Overton (27 not out) counter-attacked with an unbroken stand of 60.

But the home bowlers still look set to face a stiff task tomorrow in a game most expected last season’s First Division runners-up to win.

The day began with Kent 81-2 in their first innings in reply to Somerset’s 171. They found the going tough under overcast skies, which necessitated the use of Taunton’s new floodlights, against a home attack stepping up on their efforts of the previous day.

Josh Davey and Lewis Gregory bowled tight opening spells, with Davey having Sean Dickson caught at first slip for 43 and Gregory picking up the prized wicket of former team-mate Matt Renshaw, taken at mid-off from a leading edge for five.

Heino Kuhn made 18 before having his middle stump uprooted by Craig Overton, Alex Blake played on to Gregory attempting to cut and Daniel Bell-Drummond, who battled hard for his 33 was well caught above his head by Marcus Trescothick at second slip to give Gregory a third victim.

It was 172-7 at lunch and the afternoon session saw the addition of 37 valuable runs before Kent were bowled out for 209, a handy lead of 38.

That looked an even more advantageous position when Somerset’s top order failed again, with Trescothick, Azhar Ali and James Hildreth contributing just nine runs between them as veteran Stevens wielded magic with the new ball, claiming 2-13 from seven overs.

It was 32-4 when Eddie Byrom, on 14, edged Milnes to diving wicketkeeper Ollie Robinson and, although Davies and Abell added 58 with reasonable comfort, both departed to forgettable shots.

Abell was caught behind off a flashing drive to give Claydon his first wicket of the innings and the experienced paceman then bowled Davies off an inside edge to leave Somerset 103-6, a lead of only 65.

When Gregory was bowled pushing forward to Claydon it seemed Kent had broken the back of the Somerset batting. But 21-year-old Bartlett and England all-rounder Overton had other ideas.

They added 60 in entertaining fashion as the post tea session was played in the best weather of the game.

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