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All-rounder Azhar leads Kent fight back

Azhar Mahmood took the first three Hampshire wickets to fall
Azhar Mahmood took the first three Hampshire wickets to fall

Kent v Hampshire day three

Yasir Arafat was Kent’s star on day two of this Canterbury Cricket Week clash, but day three very much belonged to his former Pakistan team-mate Azhar Mahmood as Kent, having seemingly let their grip on the game slip, hit back throughout the afternoon.

The hosts lost five wickets in Friday’s opening session and looked set to concede a first innings deficit until Mahmood added a lusty 73 from 81 balls to help Kent to a modest two-run lead.

Then, the wily medium-pacer bowled up the St Lawrence slope to claim 3-16 in his opening stint from the pavilion end making Hampshire work hard for their close of play total of 185-6.

Ryan McLaren chipped in the with scalp of Chris Benham (10) from the Nackington Road to leave Hampshire struggling on 97-4 at tea then, after the interval, James Tredwell had Sean Ervine (66) superbly caught at short leg by Neil Dexter of a bottom edged sweep that bounced off the pad.

Then Yasir snared Dimitri Mascarenhas (14) leg before with an in-swinger to make it 143-6.

The visitors rallied thereafter through Nic Pothas (52) and Chris Tremlett (17) to go into the final day with a 183-run lead and four second innings wickets still intact.

Only Ervine, with a season’s best, offered much by way of resistance in the mid-session scoring his third 50 of the summer from 55-balls and with eight fours.

Mahmood started his rout in the second over when he bowled Michael Brown for a fourth-ball duck then, first innings top-scorer Michael Carberry, got a thin edge through to Geraint Jones to make it 9-2.

Michael Lumb (4) helped Ervine take the total to 33 before he was pinned on the back foot by a Mahmood in-ducker to go leg before.

The, just before the interval, McLaren added to Hampshire woes by having Chris Benham (10) caught by Martin van Jaarsveld at second slip.

At the start of the day Hampshire’s left-arm seamer James Tomlinson bowled superbly to 4-64 including a 25-ball stint of three for nought as Kent slumped to 336-8 by lunch.

Resuming on their promising overnight position of 241-3 in reply to Hampshire's first innings 367, Kent lost five wickets in the session, four to Tomlinson and the other to wrist-spinner Imran Tahir.

Kent's first casualty of the day was James Tredwell (14) who, in aiming to paddle sweep against Tahir, got a top edge to be caught by Ervine at short fine leg on the run from slip.

The next four went to Tomlinson during an excellent 12-over stint from the Pavilion End as he took his season's tally to 42 to take him level with Steve Harmison as the joint leading wicket-taker in the LV Championship first division.

Van Jaarsveld (35) was his first victim of the day when he chopped an off-cutter onto the top of his middle stump when playing right back in defence.

Justin Kemp (6) wastefully drove at a wide one to be caught by Lumb at slip and Jones (9) followed suit when he drove loosely to pick out Carberry at cover point.

Yasir Arafat was the last victim of the session when, with his score on (9) he steered a lifting leg-cutter to second slip where Ervine took a comfortable catch.

McLaren and Mahmood fell to Tahir’a leg spin, he finished with 5-96, soon after the interval but at least Kent had matched Hampshire’s tally of four batting bonus points.

*** Click here to view a live match scorecard on the cricinfo website ***

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