Benkenstein: It was tough for the bowlers

Imran Tahir. Picture: Neil Marshall
Imran Tahir. Picture: Neil Marshall
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Hampshire are facing a battle to seal promotion after a difficult opening day of the County Championship clash with Kent.

A home win at the Ageas Bowl would be good enough for a return to division one if other results also go Hampshire’s way.

But Kent took advantage of glorious batting conditions on day one.

They won the toss and rattled up an impressive total of 312 for just three wickets.

It means Hampshire will be looking for quick wickets on day two to stop the visitors carrying the game away from them.

First team coach Dale Benkenstein praised the Kent batsmen for their performance.

He felt there was a chance to take more wickets early in the morning.

But Hampshire could not capitalise enough as Kent batted carefully to recover from 86 for three.

Benkenstein said: ‘I think the wicket had a bit in it in the morning and that was maybe your chance to make inroads.

‘I think we could have bowled a bit better in the morning session but apart from that, there wasn’t a lot more we could have done.

‘It’s definitely a good wicket and it flattened out as the ball got a bit older.

‘We had one or two chances that we may have taken but it was some really good batting from two good young batsmen.’

It was Daniel Bell-Drummond and Sam Northeast who did most of the damage with the bat for Kent.

They each struck centuries in an unbroken fourth wicket stand of 226 to boost Kent.

Earlier, Matt Coles removed Rob Key and Ben Harmison during a hostile spell.

Imran Tahir also took his first wicket for Hampshire since 2010 when he was last drafted in as a replacement.

This time he was in for Danny Briggs, who having been the club’s number one spinner all summer, was forced to sit out this contest.

But South African Test player Tahir did not have the best of days.

Umpire Nigel Cowley issued him with a warning for running on to the wicket immediately after lunch and a change of ends did not bring a change of luck as Bell-Drummond and Northeast dug in comfortably.

Bell-Drummond reached the fourth century of his career in the 75th over with a single to mid-on off Liam Dawson and Northeast was not long behind him in reaching three figures.

Northeast duly reached the landmark off 182 balls in an innings which included a swept six off spinner Dawson.

And Benkenstein knows it is going to be a tense finish to the season as Hampshire look to complete the job and secure a return to division one.

He paid tribute to Kent century makers Bell-Drummond and Northeast for the way they performed but knows there is plenty of time left for Hampshire to respond.

Benkenstein said: ‘We bowled well and did not give anything away.

‘All credit to the Kent lads. It was difficult early on but they both deserved their centuries.

‘Promotion means a lot to the Hampshire players and you could sense a few of them getting nervous in the dressing room.

‘But I expect the whole issue to go down to the wire in the last match at Cardiff.

‘In any case, this is only day one of a four-day match.’