Essex batsmen battle at Kent
18:34 22 September 2016
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Division Two champions on brink of avoiding follow-on
Essex need three more runs to avoid the possibility of having to follow-on in their last match of the County Championship season at Kent.
Matt Dixon finished with a five-wicket haul as the home side were eventually dismissed for 441 on the morning of the third day’s play.
But the Division Two champions, despite three half-century stands, lost wickets at regular intervals to close on 289-9.
Kent had resumed on 389-7 and their eighth-wicket stand reached 87 before Matt Coles edged David Masters behind to Adam Wheater.
Masters had Hardus Viljeon caught by captain Tom Westley to make it 427-9, before Darren Stevens was the last man out for 136, caught by Will Rhodes off the bowling of Australian Dixon, who finished with figures of 5-124 from his 29 overs.
The home side were all out for 441 and Essex’s opening pair shared 51, before Varun Chopra was trapped leg before by Stevens for 25.
Westley then fell in the final over of the morning, caught by Sean Dickson at square leg off the bowling of Mitch Claydon, to leave his side 69-2 at lunch.
And Nick Browne departed just 12 balls after the restart, caught by Sam Billings off Claydon for 36 to make it 73-3.
That left the visitors with two new batsmen still to score in Ravi Bopara and Dan Lawrence, but they moved the total to three figures and had shared 65 when Bopara tried to steer Vijoen to third man and was caught behind by Billings for 22.
Adam Wheater chipped in with 21, before he was caught at deep square leg off Coles to leave Essex 169-5, which saw Wanstead youngster Kishen Velani come to the crease.
Lawrence reached his half-century from 87 balls, with seven fours, soon after and Velani got off the mark with a four off Coles as Essex reached tea on 185-5.
But after helping Essex claim a batting point and reaching 22, Velani edged Viljoen to James Tredwell at second slip and Rhodes did exactly the same soon after to leave Essex 214-7, needing to reach 292 to avoid the follow-on.
Paul Walter got off the mark with a cover driven four and his third boundary, off Claydon, brought up the Essex 250 in the 68th over.
The partnership reached 51, in 12 overs, before Lawrence was drove Tredwell to Denly at long-on and fell 12 runs short of his century, having faced 156 balls and hit a six and 10 fours.
And Walter followed him back to the pavilion soon after, bowled by Tredwell having made 28 from 56 balls, with four fours.
That left Essex 267-9, with four overs left in the day, and last man Matt Dixon hit a pair of boundaries to take them to within three runs of making Kent bat again on the final day.