Tough start for Hampshire

Matt Coles was on form for Hampshire. Picture: Neil Marshall
Matt Coles was on form for Hampshire. Picture: Neil Marshall
James Vince. Picture: Sarah Standing (170455-8793)

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It was a frustrating opening day for Hampshire as Daniel Bell-Drummond and Sam Northeast each struck centuries for Kent.

They combined for an unbroken fourth wicket stand of 226 as Kent severely delayed Hampshire’s progress towards promotion to County Championship division one at the Ageas Bowl.

Hampshire went into their penultimate fixture requiring 27 points from their meeting with Kent and against Glamorgan next week in Cardiff to be sure of going up.

But after a chastening day in the field, Hampshire were only one bowling bonus point nearer their goal.

Kent’s batsmen made the most of a green-tinged wicket which got better and more bland as the day went on to make 312 for three from 96 overs.

Bell-Drummond recorded a career-best 135 not out having batted all day with great patience and control, while Northeast continued a rich vein of late-season form with an unbeaten 115.

Neither batsman gave so much as a hint of a chance as Hampshire captain Jimmy Adams used eight bowlers in an increasingly vain attempt to break mid-table Kent’s stranglehold.

Not that it started that way. Kent captain Robert Key won the toss and chose to bat first and eight balls into the match was back in the pavilion wondering if he had made the right choice.

Former Kent pace bowler Matt Coles was particularly impressive in a hostile first spell, bowling the former England opener as Key played across the line to Coles’ second ball of the day.

Next man Ben Harmison did not last long either, snapped up low at second slip by Liam Dawson to leave Kent 26 for two and Coles celebrating again.

But Kent battled back until Brendan Nash rashly attempted to sweep leg-spinner Imran Tahir and was adjudged leg before.

At 86 for three, the first session had been even.

But Kent then took control and at the close Bell-Drummond had faced 289 balls and hit 21 fours, while Northeast had struck 12 fours and a lone six from 199 balls.

Coles finished the day with two wickets for 44 runs from 17 overs.