Shivnarine Chanderpaul's remarkable run of form has given Lancashire a fantastic chance of claiming an LV= County Championship victory over Kent
Having seen title rivals Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire and Somerset all claim victories, the Red Rose county can ill-afford to claim anything over than the 21 points they would get for the victory.
And Chanderpaul, the prolific West Indian left hander, scored his second century for the county in his fourth match to help them to a commanding second innings total of 321 all out.
Having taken a slender first innings lead of 17, Lancashire set Kent a victory target of 339 in a day and a bit.
The hosts then reached 84-2 at the close, losing openers Joe Denly and Rob Key to Glen Chapple and Gary Keedy, and they will require another 255 runs to win during tomorrow’s final day.
“We know that this is pretty key, and that we need to win to stay in the hunt,” said Gareth Cross, who hit 50 in sharing a fifth wicket partnership of 89 with the club’s overseas signing.
Chanderpaul had accumulated 120 off 234 balls, including 14 fours, and has now scored 441 runs from his eight innings.
Chanderpaul and Steven Croft continued a fourth wicket partnership of 78 – started on day two – through the morning session before the latter fell seven short of his 50 when he edged Simon Cook behind to Geraint Jones.
Chanderpaul was joined at the crease by Cross, and the pair advanced the score from 130-4 in 41st over with a fifth wicket stand that lasted just short of 29 overs either side of lunch.
Cross, who hit a century during the final day of the dead draw at Hampshire recently, embarked upon arguably his most impressive and most important innings since returning to the four-day side last month. He was typically positive, and brought up his 50 off 92 balls with five fours.
But, unfortunately, he failed to add to his tally because he was comprehensively bowled trying to drive Matt Coles two balls later.
That left the score at 219-5, and Glen Chapple and Luke Sutton both followed cheaply within seven overs to leave the score at 246-7.
Chanderpaul, who started the day on 23, had clipped the first ball of the day for four through square leg off Cook. He brought up his 50 off 113 balls before lunch, and later reached three figures with a pulled boundary off Coles, getting there off 210 balls with eleven fours. Boundaries 12, 13 and 14 followed quickly, all off the off spin of James Tredwell in successive balls.
Cross said: “It’s good to watch the way Shiv plays because he makes it look easy. He’s such a calming influence on people. It was also good to get some runs myself because I was disappointed to get out in the first innings for 30.”
Sajid Mahmood, meanwhile, continued his liking for Tredwell – he had hit him for three sixes in the first innings – by sweeping him for a maximum.
Chanderpaul, who scored 118 at Hampshire, had notched his highest score in a Red Rose shirt by the time he was trapped lbw by Cook prodding forward in the 92nd over of the innings.
Kyle Hogg then fell three balls later, bowled by Cook for a duck, to leave the score at 294-9.
Mahmood then smashed Amjad Khan over mid wicket for six before trying to reverse sweep Tredwell on a couple of occasions. He straight drove him for four, and caressed Cook through the covers on the way to 41 not out off 74 balls.
Keedy was the last man out when he was caught at mid wicket by Coles off Tredwell.
Chapple struck in the eighth over of Kent’s reply, bowling Denly for 12. Keedy then had Key smartly stumped by Sutton for 30 to leave the score at 56-2.
Sam Northeast and Martin van Jaarsveld have since added an unbroken 28 for the third wicket, the latter scoring 21 of them, and they will resume in the morning.
Assessing the state of the pitch, Cross added: “It’s slow and there is some variable bounce. It’s also spinning now for Keeds. It’s going to be hard for them to get the runs if we bowl well.”
Day 1 Report I Day 2 Report
Graham Hardcastle at Canterbury
Photo: Simon Pendrigh, Peakpix Digital Images
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd