Lancashire 145 (Henry 5-45, Saini 3-63) and 2 for 0 trail Kent 270 (Leaning 90, Stewart 64, Denly 59, Bailey 6-64) by 123 runs
Kent finished the happier of the two sides at the end of a captivating second day of this LV=Insurance Division One clash with Lancashire after building a substantial first-innings lead over their hosts.
Lancashire had been honest about their intentions to play on a pitch used just a few days before for England’s one-day international match with India but their decision backfired somewhat when they were bowled out for just 145 in a calamitous morning session that saw nine wickets fall in 28 overs.
Kent struggled to do much better until half-centuries from Joe Denly, Jack Leaning and Grant Stewart saw a topsy-turvy day swing in favour of the visitors who were dismissed for 270 replying to Lancashire’s 145 before the Red Rose closed on 2-0 at the beginning of their second innings.
The day began with the news that Kent captain Sam Billings had tested positive for Covid and was to be replaced by Ollie Robinson behind the stumps with Leaning taking over as captain.
It set the tone for a bizarre day which saw Washington Sundar play no shot to the second delivery of the morning from Matt Henry only to see the ball jag back and take out his off stump.
Two balls later and George Lavelle had departed, edging his second ball from Henry to Zak Crawley without scoring and 112 for 4 overnight had quickly become 112 for 6.
The excellent Henry was on a roll and Steven Croft was next to go for 31, caught behind by temporary wicket keeper Jordan Cox who had donned the gloves as Kent awaited the arrival of Robinson.
Henry’s fourth quickly followed when Tom Bailey received a brute of a third delivery he’d faced that uprooted his stumps with Luke Wood handing the New Zealander his five-for when he chipped a catch to Stewart at mid-on for 18.
By then Henry had taken 5 for 14 from 29 deliveries and Lancashire were all but done at 145 for 9 with Nathan Gilchrist picking up the final wicket of Will Williams to a great catch in the gully from Daniel Bell-Drummond with no addition the total.
Six wickets had fallen for 33 runs inside the first hour but the fun didn’t stop there when Kent came out to bat with Ben Compton finding Sundar at Point off Bailey’s second ball of the reply without scoring, before Bell-Drummond was trapped lbw by Williams, to leave the visitors 5 for 2.
Meanwhile Crawley was defending for his life and the England opener had faced 26 balls without getting off the mark when the 27th saw him clip Williams to a diving Wood at midwicket to leave Kent 12 for 3 off 10 overs and the Lancashire members wondering if they’d better make plans for day three.
It was left to Denly and Leaning to start the rebuild and they did it in painstaking fashion with the slow outfield meaning boundaries were at a premium and hard-run threes the order of the day.
Leaning had his first of three lives when he was dropped by Rob Jones at slip on 32, but by the time the century partnership came up for the fourth wicket off 212 balls, the sun was out at Emirates Old Trafford and batting was appearing a far easier prospect.
Denly finally departed just before tea for 59 when he failed to remove his bat in time to a Bailey delivery and edged one to a grateful Lavelle, but the 106 partnership had put his county well on the way to a lead and changed the narrative of the day.
Or had it? Straight after the interval two wickets fell in an over for the second time in the day as Cox top-edged a Bailey delivery to Wood for two before Robinson was lbw third ball for 0.
This left Kent 120 for 6 and Lancashire hopeful they could stay in the game with a narrow lead for the visitors. It was not to be. Just as Leaning had found a willing partner in Denly, Stewart stepped up and the seventh wicket pair began building the second century partnership of the innings but with far more attacking intent.
Leaning would eventually depart just after 6pm for 90 off 209 balls, edging Jack Morley to slip where Luke Wells took a fine catch low down to his right.
From there Stewart did his best to marshal the tail as a Henry nick behind gave Bailey his fifth wicket before Williams claimed his third by rearranging by Gilchrist’s stumps.
By the time Navdeep Saini skied one to Josh Bohannon for three to leave Bailey with figures of 6 for 64 and Stewart unbeaten on 64, Kent had a lead of 125 and Lancashire were forced to take to the field for two overs which were safely negotiated by Wells and Keaton Jennings.