Muhammed Azharullah and Rory Kleinveldt both took five wickets as 17 wickets fell on the second day at Wantage Road, after a first day washout. Matt Coles responded with four wickets for Kent after they were bowled out for 140.
Kent looked to be making good progress at 93-2 but Sam Northeast and Rob Key fell for 36 and 35 respectively as the visitors lost their last eight wickets for 47 runs inside ten overs, Azharullah finishing with 5-31 and Kleinveldt 5-41.
Alex Wakely and Rob Keogh both hit half centuries as Northants looked to be taking control, but a flurry of late wickets, led by Coles’ 4-62, saw Northants close on 193-7 to lead by 53 runs.
Having been put into bat at a toss that would prove the opening day’s only action, an initial flurry of boundaries came before both openers departed with only 24 on the board, Daniel Bell-Drummond (12) gloving a rising delivery off Kleinveldt behind, before Joe Denly (8) sliced Azharullah to point.
Key survived a couple of early scares, being dropped by Keogh at slip before a loud caught behind appeal was turned down, but soon settled down and looked comfortable along with the inform Northeast.
In fact the closest the pair came to being dismissed was run out, first Steven Crook missing the stumps with Northeast short, before Olly Stone, off his own bowling, missed with Key stranded at the non-striker’s end.
Crook and Stone started to leak boundaries as the first change pair conceded 57 runs in ten overs, Northeast with seven fours to Key’s five, but it was the reintroduction of Kleinveldt ten minutes before lunch that saw the hosts lose four wickets for four runs before the interval.
The fourth delivery from the South African tempted Northeast into edging behind, and the fifth saw Darren Stevens LBW from his first delivery. Azharullah beat Key’s defences to remove his middle stump in the following over, before also clean bowling James Tredwell two overs later without score to send Kent into lunch at 97-6.
Adam Ball and Ryan Davies added 25 after the break before the former became Azharullah’s fourth victim, bowled for 5, Kleinveldt matching him when Davies (12) was LBW three balls later.
Mitchell Claydon became the fourth Kent batsmen to be bowled by Azharullah as he completed his second five wicket haul of the season, and second in consecutive inning, as he removed Coles.
In reply, Northants sixth opening partnership in their last ten Championship innings, Rob Newton and Ben Duckett, lasted only 15 balls until the former was LBW to Coles for 14.
Duckett played in a patient manner as along with captain Alex Wakely, looked to build a platform for the hosts, adding 49 in 15 overs, before he was run out for 19, beaten by Denly’s throw from deep square leg attempting a second.
Wakely, however, continued on to his second half century of the season and together with Keogh, the third wicket partnership took Northants to within seven runs of parity, Wakely reaching 50 off 110 balls. In the very next over, however, he lost his middle stump to Stevens without adding to his score.
Keogh moved past 600 runs for the Championship season as he reached his own 50 in just 71 balls, but his dismissal, edging Coles to Ball in the slips, sparked a Northants collapse of their own, the hosts losing four wickets for 25 in the final seven overs of the day.
Adam Rossington slashed at a very wide Coles delivery to edge behind for just four and the same bowler had three wickets in as many overs when nightwatchman Olly Stone was bowled. Josh Cobb then fell in the final over, edging Claydon to Coles at slip, leaving Richard Levi unbeaten on 20.