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Kent Cricket suffer five-wicket defeat at Essex in opening LV= County Championship Division 2 match of 2015 season

Kent were left to rue dropped catches and the concession of a host of extras as they lost a low-scoring season opener at Essex inside two-and-a-half days.

The visitors worked themselves into several strong positions in their LV= County Championship Division 2 opener, claiming a first-innings lead on a problematic batting track and then setting their hosts a testing victory target of 193.

However more than 30 of those runs came via extras, including 15 byes, and Essex skipper James Foster did the rest with an unbeaten 80 to steer his side from 66-4 early on Tuesday to victory by five wickets just nine balls after lunch on day three.

On Sunday Kent were indebted to a dogged 50 from Darren Stevens and a patient 30 from opener Daniel Bell-Drummond as they recovered from 87-5 to post 193 all-out on the opening day, with the unpredictable bounce on a green wicket helping Jesse Ryder claim 5-43.

Kent made inroads on the first evening to restrict the hosts to 67-6, though on Monday Jaik Mickleburgh (46) and Graham Napier steered them from 69-7 to 149-7 in a 12-over spell.

Napier cracked a vital 57 from 40 balls before falling to Matt Coles, who claimed 4-48 on his Kent return.

Stevens added 4-47 - including one with his first ball of the season - and Ivan Thomas also registered his first Championship scalp in nearly three years.

Essex’s total of 164 left Kent ahead by 29, but their second innings began slowly as they slipped to 8-2 with Joe Denly following his three in the first innings with a duck, to accompany three drops throughout the match, with other chances put down by Coles and Sam Billings.

Mitch Claydon. Picture: Barry Goodwin.
Mitch Claydon. Picture: Barry Goodwin.

Sam Northeast anchored the innings with a fine 77 before falling to Greg Smith, but not before putting on 62 with Stevens (36). Mitch Claydon’s 14 at No9 helped Kent to 163 all-out, and Thomas bowled Tom Westley for nought to give Kent a quick start.

However Nick Browne (25) and Mickleburgh (23) made it 57-1 before Billings made a stunning catch to dismiss Browne as Claydon claimed two wickets in two overs.

Claydon collected his third in the second over on Tuesday to make it 66-4, but it brought Kent tormentor extraordinaire Foster to the crease and he put on 66 with nightwatchman James Porter - who fell to Coles after his two hours in the middle yielded 14 runs.

Foster and Ryder (17*) then cantered home with Foster hitting 16 off the Claydon’s first over after lunch and Ryder clubbing Thomas for six in the next to ensure victory with five wickets, and five sessions to spare.

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