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Joe Denly (87) and Harry Finch (85) help Kent to 394 in reply to Essex’s 591-7dec in County Championship at Canterbury

Joe Denly and Harry Finch led the Kent rearguard on day three of their Vitality County Championship clash with Essex at Canterbury.

Denly made 87 and Finch hit 85 before Kent were bowled out in what proved to be the final over of the day for 349.

Joe Denly - scored 87 for Kent against Essex. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Joe Denly - scored 87 for Kent against Essex. Picture: Barry Goodwin

It means the hosts will need to bat out the final day, as Essex will no doubt enforce the follow-on overnight, to escape with a draw. They’ll begin their second innings on Monday morning still 197 runs in arrears.

Denly said “It wasn’t too bad a day, on a surface that was quite nice for batting. They’ve obviously got two very good spinners and it was challenging at times, that’s for sure. But I think to bat through the day and get 190 behind them going into day four on a pretty good surface, we’re backing ourselves and feeling confident coming back in tomorrow.

“It started with myself and Parky this morning. We had a great little contribution from him, he works hard at his batting and it was great fun to bat with him, he loves getting into a scrap as well. Harry came in and played beautifully, it’s just a shame one of us couldn’t get in and get a big one.

“They’ll be quite attacking but that will potentially create scoring opportunities for us so it’s a good chance for a few of us to get in and get some good scores.

“It’s always nice to score runs and get a bit of consistency but as always I’d like to kick on and get some big scores and match-winning contributions. It’s a little bit frustrating not to have kicked on, I fell like I’ve left quite a few runs out there so I’m hungry to put that right.”

Kent resumed on 118-4, Denly and nightwatchman Matt Parkinson batted through the entire morning session against an Essex attack still without the injured Sam Cook.

There were occasional alarms, such as when Dean Elgar couldn’t cling on to a drive from Parkinson when he was on 31, but the spinner passed his previous first-class best of 39 with a single off Simon Harmer and had made it to 45 at lunch, at which point Kent were 203-4.

Denly drove Shane Snater for four to bring up his fifty, but Parkinson was denied a maiden red-ball half-century when Jamie Porter trapped him lbw for 48 to leave Kent 217-5.

Finch was on four when he pulled Aaron Beard to the boundary, but Matt Critchley couldn’t pull off a tumbling catch and the drop proved expensive.

The only other wicket to fall in the session came when Denly, who looked destined for a century, misjudged a Critchley delivery and was caught by Beard at long on (285-6).

Successive byes from Critchley allowed Kent to get a third bonus point with four balls to spare in the 110th over and it was 302-6 at tea.

Kent’s scored advanced to 358 when Joey Evison tried to sweep Tom Westley and was bowled for 29. Westley then had Finch lbw and with Wes Agar hurt after injuring his shoulder on day one Arafat Bhuiyan was sent out with Kent still 78 runs short of the follow-on target.

Grant Stewart played conservatively but still managed to dump Westley for six over cow corner, only for Critchley to bowl Bhuiyan for one.

Agar duly walked out needing to survive for three minutes to spare Kent an awkward over following on and he duly blocked out five balls.

With the field in, Stewart then blasted Harmer (0-101) for six and four in the day’s penultimate over, but Critchley (5-88) pinned Agar lbw with the first ball of the last over to set up a potentially fascinating final day.

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