Lancashire are the marginal favourites going into the third day of their crucial LV= County Championship match against Kent at Canterbury after showing plenty of determination with both bat and ball
Glen Chapple and Gary Keedy claimed four wickets apiece to give their side a 17-run first innings lead at the St Lawrence Ground, and Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Steven Croft were then the main players as that lead was advanced to 120 for the loss of three wickets by close.
Replying to Lancashire's first day 266, the hosts had been bowled out for 249 in the over before tea. Lancashire, in their second innings, then closed on a steady 103-3 from 32 overs.
Chapple agreed that this encounter has been a superb advert for the longer format of the game. He said: “It is a good advert for the game.
“They are good to play in, although it can create quite a lot of anxiety. It keeps you interested, and there is no boring cricket. It must be good to watch. It is a game where every run has counted, and they will continue to count.”
Lancashire had to work hard for their wickets in the morning session before ‘poles’ fell with regularity afterwards. They only took one before lunch, Kyle Hogg getting Martin van Jaarsveld caught at point by Gareth Cross for 34.
But then Chapple bowled both Geraint Jones and Joe Denly, who top scored with 69 off 169 balls, within five overs to reduce the score from 137-3 to 142-5. It was only ex-England one-day opener Denly’s third half century of the summer.
The in-form left arm spinner Keedy then trapped Alex Blake (28) lbw before Sajid Mahmood bowled James Tredwell through the gate to leave the hosts at 212-7.
Keedy then bowled Darren Stevens (28) around his legs as the all-rounder tried to sweep him very fine, he had Simon Cook caught at cover by Chanderpaul and forced Matt Coles to chip to Mark Chilton at mid wicket one run short of a second batting bonus point.
Chapple finished with 4-45 from 23 overs and Keedy 4-49 from 19.5, and Keedy has now taken 18 wickets in two and a half Championship matches since returning from his broken collarbone last month.
“I thought we bowled excellently and fielded well,” continued Chapple. “The only problem we had was that we dropped a few catches. It was frustrating at the time, but we stuck at it well.”
Paul Horton started Lancashire’s second innings in positive fashion after tea, clipping and cutting boundaries through mid wicket and point on the way to 29 off 21 balls.
But England Lions all-rounder Stevens, who took three wickets in the first innings, proved dangerous again by trapping both Tom Smith - for five - and Horton lbw to leave the score at 36-2 early in the eighth over.
Cook then snared Chilton lbw - the third of the innings - and the score was 52-3.
Chanderpaul, unbeaten on 23, and Croft united for 19 overs and one ball before the end of the day, adding an unbroken stand of 51. And, although they survived the odd scare, it was a stand of calmness. Despite arriving at the crease after the West Indian, Croft moved beyond his partner to finish on 38 not out.
“It was a crucial time when they came together, and they played really well. Crofty’s in good form, and we played positively as well. We scored at a good rate,” said Chapple, who believes the pitch is getting easier to bat on.
"This is one of those places that's affected by no heavy roller. It seems to do quite a bit more with the brand new ball, then flattens out as the bowlers get tired and the seam gets softer."
Chapple, who turned down the offer of a hypothetical 250-run lead in the post day interviews, added: “It’s difficult to say what a good lead would be. But we still have seven wickets left.”
Day 1 Report
Graham Hardcastle at Canterbury
Photo: Simon Pendrigh, Peakpix Digital Images
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd