County Championship: Kent set Hampshire big target after Jack Leaning century

Jack Leaning celebrates
Kent’s Jack Leaning is now just 31 runs from equalling his total from last year
LV= County Championship Division One, Ageas Bowl (day two)
Kent 165 & 269: Leaning 112; Abbas 4-68, Fuller 3-44
Hampshire 57 & 105-4: Weatherley54*; Quinn 2-26
Hampshire (3 pts) need 273 runs to beat Kent (3 pts)
Match scorecard

Jack Leaning celebrated his second century of the season to boost Kent’s hopes of avoiding relegation from County Championship Division One as they set title-chasing Hampshire 378 to win.

Stand-in captain Leaning struck 112 as Kent were bowled out in their second innings for 269 on a pitch more conducive to batting, following 23 wickets on the opening day.

With Surrey highly likely to pick up a win and six bonus points, Hampshire were set the fifth-highest chase in their history to keep themselves in the title race,

Joe Weatherley was exceptional for his unbeaten 54 but Hampshire lost openers Felix Organ and Ian Holland, plus nightwatchman Keith Barker and Nick Gubbins while to reach 105-4, still needing 273 to win.

On a pitch which had flattened out, Tawanda Muyeye and Daniel Bell-Drummond came out with a gameplan to attack with glorious abandon for Kent as they put on a carefree 35.

Muyeye gained a life on 34 when dropped at third slip but failed to use it when leg before to Kyle Abbott in the following over.

Bell-Drummond continued on his way to 40, with all but eight of the runs coming in boundaries, with 51 added with Leaning before he was bowled playing around James Fuller. Ollie Robinson also fell before lunch when edging a slog to first slip.

The afternoon saw Leaning come into his own. He set up outside his crease to comfortably collect runs and is on course to average above 40 in his first two full seasons at Kent since moving from Yorkshire.

Last season his failure to convert a 50 into a century (just once in seven attempts) limited his run-total of 745. He has now almost matched his overall run tally, up to 714, and has scored two centuries – this one coming in much trickier conditions than his 128 at home to Gloucestershire.

The right-hander, who had batted through over an hour after lunch with Harry Finch, reached his eighth first-class century with a six over mid-wicket.

From there wickets fell more regularly as Leaning scored all but one run off the bat in stands of 17 with Joey Evison, who was caught behind, then 21 with Nathan Gilchrist, who picked out long on to end the innings.

Only Hampshire sides – in 1983, 1985, 1990 and 2006 – have scored greater than 378 to win, but their hopes got off to a hitch when Holland was leg before to Matt Quinn in the fourth over.

Organ and Weatherley bravely copped knocks on the hand during a ferocious Conor McKerr over.

But, after back-to-back boundaries, Organ edged Harry Podmore behind before Barker staved off 17 deliveries, then looped a bouncer to mid-wicket.

Quinn picked up his eighth wicket of the match when Gubbins left a delivery that nipped back into his off stump, before Weatherley celebrated his 94-ball half-century – his first since April.

Hampshire’s Felix Organ told BBC Radio Solent:

“It was never going to be easy with the ball. We were still confident coming in that we could take early wickets and hopefully not be chasing much.

“We knew the pitch would get better throughout the day. We’d have liked to have bowled them out for a little less. But we’re fairly confident chasing down anything. The team we’ve got have done some pretty special things this year and last year.

“There is no reason to say we can’t do something special again. We still have a lot of belief in the dressing room that we can still chase these runs down. It’s a simple equation and we will give it a good go.

Kent stand-in captain Jack Leaning:

“We’ve got ourselves into a really strong position. If we can win it puts us in a really strong position going into the last round of fixtures, in terms of staying in Division One.

“The boys back it up with the ball. The wickets didn’t come as quickly as the first innings but we controlled the rate and bowled in the right areas. The pitch has flattened out but some are starting to go up and down which will make it tough for their guys.

“I am trying to be a bit more proactive to score a bit more. I did that in a tough situation – and it was my day. To get the team in a good position as captain is pleasing. At the start of the day we set out to ideally get a lead of 250 so to come away almost 380 ahead and bowl as well as we did was pleasing.”

Report supplied by the ECB Reporters’ Network.

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