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Kent (178 & 564) lost to Somerset (554 & 194-2) by eight wickets in County Championship Division 1 at Taunton

Kent dropped into the bottom two of the Vitality County Championship Division 1 table after losing by eight wickets at Somerset on Monday.

The visitors never recovered from a punishing first day in the field and, despite a defiant half-century from Joe Denly under blue skies at Taunton and a boundary-laden quickfire 37 by Grant Stewart, the writing was always on the wall.

Joe Denly - scored a half-century for Kent against Somerset. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Joe Denly - scored a half-century for Kent against Somerset. Picture: Barry Goodwin

Resuming with five second-innings wickets already removed, Kent had an early left-off when Craig Overton spilt a chance offered to second slip by Harry Finch in the opening over, completed from the previous evening by Migael Pretorius.

Finch went on to make 20 and helped Denly take the total to 455 before Josh Davey (2-40), who had not bowled on day two because of a sickness bug, took up the attack from the River End and had him caught behind.

Having switched ends, Davey struck again to reduce Kent to 480-7, pinning Joey Evison lbw for 17 and leaving Kent 104 ahead with three wickets remaining. Denly batted throughout the morning session with few mishaps, but lost another partner on the stroke of lunch when Beyers Swanepoel edged to Overton at second slip off Pretorius for seven.

Attack proved the best form of defence after lunch as Denly and Stewart put together a stand of 59, Stewart opting to counter-attack and taking three fours off one Davey over.

The patient Denly went to a trademark fifty off 110 balls with a nick through the slips for four. It was one of few false shots amid stubborn resistance and Somerset were struggling for another breakthrough when skipper Lewis Gregory took responsibility for wrapping things up.

Stewart had faced only 41 balls when playing one big shot too many and getting an inside edge onto his middle stump, having helped Kent extend their lead to 177. With only last man George Garrett left at the other end, Denly (67) was forced to open up and gave wicketkeeper James Rew his sixth catch of the game when advancing down the pitch to a short ball from Gregory.

Kent were 564 all out and Somerset had time and overs in hand to chase down a modest target of 189 for victory.

With Garrett still missing from their attack because of a groin injury sustained while bowling in the first innings, Kent faced a huge task to make inroads into Somerset’s top order. But they struck with the score on 24 when Sean Dickson, on six, chased a wide leg-side delivery from Swanepoel and glanced a catch to wicketkeeper Finch.

Tom Lammonby has been in great form this season and moved briskly to 30 off 24 balls before his brimming confidence led to an error, skying off-spinner Marcus O’Riordan to deep mid-off where Zak Crawley took a comfortable catch.

Tea was taken immediately with Somerset 60-2 and Matt Renshaw unbeaten on 24. A further 129 runs were needed with a minimum of 40.2 overs left in the day and, with their Australian left-hander at the crease, the hosts had good cause for optimism.

Andy Umeed (73 not out) has settled consistently into the number four batting role in recent games and again looked in good touch as the third-wicket pair blossomed in the final session, Renshaw (82 not out) bringing up the hundred with a square cut for two off O’Riordan.

Renshaw’s fourth boundary took him to a 76-ball half-century, his third of the season. Umeed progressed carefully to his first Championship fifty for Somerset and went on to pass his previous best score for the county of 60 before ending the match with a six and extending the unbroken stand to 134.

Kent head coach Matt Walker said: “We lost the game in both first innings. It wasn’t a 500 pitch when Somerset batted or a 175 one when we did.

“Having bowled well this season, we couldn’t find the right lines and lengths. Perhaps 300 would have been a par score, but to let them get past 500 was very disappointing.

“First innings batting has been a problem and it’s one we need to address. Things don’t get any easier with Essex as our next opponents.

“Having said all that, there were certainly positives to be drawn from the character the players showed to take the game into late on the final day. Zak Crawley’s innings was amazing and Joe Denly batted well in both innings.

“If he and Grant Stewart could have stayed together for another half hour today we might have had a chance. But four-day cricket is full of ifs and buts, and that was certainly the case for us in this game.

“We found ourselves two bowlers light today. Nathan Gilchrist has a sore back, which shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but George Garrett will miss the next game with his groin injury.”

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