Half centuries from Steven Croft and Sajid Mahmood helped Lancashire recover from some early troubles with the bat against Kent at Canterbury
The Red Rose county fell to 56-4 and 157-7 after Glen Chapple won the toss and elected to bat, but they managed to post a competitive 266 from 76 overs.
Chapple then nipped out Kent captain Rob Key and No.3 Sam Northeast before close as the hosts ended day one on 53-2 from 18 overs.
Despite reaching 55-0 in the 19th over thanks to Tom Smith’s and Paul Horton’s opening stand, medium pacer Darren Stevens took advantage of some swing to take three wickets in 13 balls.
Smith was caught at point by Matt Coles for 32, while Horton and Shivnarine Chanderpaul were both caught behind by Geraint Jones. Mark Chilton was snaffled by Martin van Jaarsveld at second slip off the bowling of Amjad Khan in-between.
Croft, who top scored with 65 off 108 balls, started the recovery by sharing a four wicket stand of 59 with Gareth Cross (30).
But Cross was trapped lbw by Simon Cook before Luke Sutton was caught at mid wicket by sub fielder Phil Edwards off Coles and Chapple caught at first slip by van Jaarsveld off James Tredwell to leave Lancs seven down in the 47th over.
Croft had earlier pulled Amjad for six over square leg, and he was in typically determined mood, notching his eighth 50 of the campaign off 71 balls.
The Blackpool all-rounder shared 62 inside 13 overs for the eighth wicket with Saj Mahmood, the latter being the dominant partner.
Mahmood used his feet to launch off spinner Tredwell over long on, cover and long off for his three maximums, also clipping Cook through wide long on for four to reach his fifth half century of the campaign off 44 balls.
Yes, Mahmood was happy to attack, but he was also keen to defend knowing that his presence at the crease was key to Lancashire’s recovery.
As was Croft’s work. But unfortunately he perished trying to hit Cook over cover, Alex Blake taking the catch to reduce the score to 219-8.
Mahmood fell in the second over of the evening session, caught by Tredwell at first slip off Amjad for 60 off 55 balls. Gary Keedy then fell in identical fashion off the bowling of Coles to end the innings.
Kyle Hogg finished on 20 not out to guide the Red Rose to a second batting bonus point.
Mahmood, who has now scooted beyond 400 runs for the first time in his career, said: “Throughout the season I’ve decided to hit it if it’s there, regardless of the situation. Obviously you’ve got to look at the situation to a certain degree, but I back myself to hit it – and it’s come off.
“I really enjoyed it out there. I faced a bit of spin, which I like, and the boundaries are not too big straight. That’s worked in my favour.
“Crofty did well too. The lower order batters did well to hang around with Crofty and get a few runs.
“The ball stopped swinging as much as it did early on. It swung quite a lot for them.”
Kent opener Joe Denly was caught by Smith at second slip off a Mahmood no-ball on seven in the second over of the reply before Smith dropped Key on nought in the same position off Chapple in the next over.
But Smith made amends with a smart tumbling effort at second slip in the ninth over to get rid of Kent skipper Key for eight off the bowling of Chapple.
That left the score at 29-1, and it was soon 35-2 because Chapple trapped Northeast lbw for a duck early in the eleventh.
Denly reached 32 not out at close. He will resume tomorrow with van Jaarsveld for company and Kent are 213 runs behind.
Mahmood added: “I think it’s pretty even so far. To get 266 was good after we lost a few wickets in a cluster. To then go out there and get them two down, I think we bowled well.
“Hopefully the wicket will continue to do a bit, and we can put their batsmen under pressure and take wickets.”
Graham Hardcastle at Canterbury
Photo: Simon Pendrigh, Peakpix Digital Images
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd