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Kent draw with Durham in Specsavers County Championship Division 2

By Alex Hoad

Kent staved off the threat of a first defeat of the Championship season with a gritty effort to save their game against Durham on Sunday evening.

The relegated side looked odds-on to pick up their first win in Division 2 in the final session on Sunday with Kent down to their final two wickets with 17 overs remaining , having given up a first innings deficit of 212 runs.

Skipper Sam Northeast was the main reason the game lasted until Sunday evening as he compiled gritty knocks of 109 not out in the first innings and then a stoic 72, eventually becoming the eighth man to fall just over an hour before the close.

Sam Northeast. Picture: Chris Davey
Sam Northeast. Picture: Chris Davey

Somehow Matt Coles (30) and Yasir Shah (39 not out) negotiated a 61-ball spell before Mitch Claydon came in to join Yasir and see his side to the line against his former club at 6.30pm.

After opting to bat first on Thursday morning the visitors amassed a total of 448 - their highest of the season so far - after posting 315-5 on the opening day, thanks in large part to the 141-run fifth wicket stand between Paul Collingwood and Ryan Pringle (71).

Collingwood stole the show with a 160-ball century, which the 41-year-old celebrated with a zimmer-frame shuffle celebration.

All-rounder Darren Stevens, 26 days older than the Durham skipper, eventually ended his stay for 120, sealing his fifth five-wicket haul of the season in the process, finishing with 5-78, while Matt Coles claimed 3-118.

Yasir Shah claimed his first Kent scalp when he bowled Barry McCarthy but Chris Rushworth added a quickfire 57 late-on to help his side post 448 as Kent missed out on maximum bowling points for the first time this season.

When the reply began, Durham claimed six scalps in a blistering 90 minute burst which left Kent in deep trouble at 63-6.

Sean Dickson was trapped LBW without scoring, Joe Denly (4) nicked to the keeper and Daniel Bell-Drummond was caught in the slips for 22 before Joe Weatherley (6) was clean bowled and Will Gidman (4) and Adam Rouse (8) glanced identical shots to third slip.

Stevens (14) and Coles (2) followed the procession after tea as Kent slipped to 123-8 but the hosts could still count on Northeast who dug-in to steer his side to 211-8 at stumps on day two, finishing the day unbeaten on 97.

He eventually added 113 for the ninth wicket with Yasir - who stuck around for nearly two-and-a-half hours for his 48 to help his new side surpass the 17-year-old Kent ninth-wicket record stand of 66 set by current coaches Mark Ealham and Min Patel.

Mitch Claydon followed Yasir back to the pavilion from the next ball leaving Northeast stranded on 109 not out - his 18th First Class century - and Kent 236 all-out.

Durham had a lead of 212 but opted not to enforce the follow-on and instead rattled another 271-6 from 70 overs before declaring late on day three.

Graham Clark cracked 83 and Collingwood added another 51 not out while Yasir picked up 2-94 and Stevens his 36th Championship wicket of the season - the best return in the country.

Kent were left to see-out the final half-hour of the penultimate day with a notional victory target of 484 but though they navigated the evening without drama, Bell-Drummond (17) departed early on the final morning.

Denly (45) and Dickson (46) steadied the ship but both fell in quick succession before lunch to leave their side 117-3.

Weatherley (30) joined Northeast to add 63 in the afternoon but his departure was followed by Stevens (0) and Gidman (3) as Kent limped into tea on 202-6, needing to survive a minimum of 35 overs.

Adam Rouse (23) lasted less than a dozen overs before being trapped by Rushworth (3-62) but with fewer than 20 overs remaining the game was all but up when Northeast was also trapped LBW by Rushworth for 72 amassed over nearly four hours.

Coles and Yasir guided their side past 300 with a bright 47-run stand but there were still 7.4 overs remaining when Coles was trapped LBW by Matthew Potts, bringing Claydon to the crease.

However the paceman - who averages just 11 - made a run-a-ball 21 and ably supported Shah (39 not out) to steer their side to a dramatic draw in a finale which featured intense pressure and aggressive field settings from the still winless visitors.

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