Lancashire finished the second day of their LV= County Championship match against Kent in a commanding position, scoring 444 in their first innings before reducing the visitors to 214/7.
Alex Davies made back-to-back career-best scores for Lancashire after scoring 89 against Derbyshire last week, but he was denied a maiden first-class century when he departed for 99 to Mitchell Claydon (4-103). Kyle Jarvis continued his scintillating form claiming 3-35 as he then led Lancashire’s efforts with the ball to put a dent in Kent’s progress.
Debutant Jordan Clark failed to add to his overnight score of 16 when he fell to the first ball of the second day, edging Darren Stevens to Sam Billings, who went on to finish with six catches in the innings.
Davies continued to play fluently off the back of a career-best score against Derbyshire but it did take him 66 balls to progress from 40 to his fifth first-class half century, a milestone he eventually reached in 151 deliveries.
The Lancashire wicketkeeper had played with a somewhat reserved approach after taking 35 minutes to move from 47 to his half-century, but after he passed fifty he opened up his shoulders, hitting eight fours to help guide the hosts to 350 for their fourth batting point.
After bowling 24 overs without a wicket, Ivan Thomas forced Peter Siddle (12) into an edge behind to Billings, but Tom Bailey (24) played another mature innings for a tail-end batsman as he assisted Davies towards what would have been a deserved century.
Needing just one more run to achieve a maiden first-class hundred, Davies was tempted into driving the ball through the covers, but feathered an edge through to Billings as he was cruelly denied with the score at 399/8.
Lancashire’s tail-enders enhanced the total further still as Jarvis hit an unbeaten 26 in 17 deliveries including a six off Adam Riley. Having claimed the precious wicket of Davies, Claydon mopped up the tail when Bailey’s top-edge landed safely in the hands of Billings, who then took a routine catch when Simon Kerrigan (10) edged through to the Kent keeper, as Lancashire were all out for 444.
Daniel Bell-Drummond and Joe Denly resumed after a delayed lunch interval with the Manchester sunshine beating down as it had for the first four sessions of the match, and these conditions continued to offer assistance to the batsmen as Kent started their first innings in a promising manner.
The Kent openers did experience their own share of luck on their way to a first-wicket partnership of 62, as the normally dependable hands of Steven Croft failed to hold onto an edge off the bowling of Siddle, but the introduction of Zimbabwean Jarvis brought success for Lancashire as he struck with his thirteenth ball of the day.
Bell-Drummond had survived a run-out chance when Jordan Clark failed to hit any one of the three stumps on show, but the Kent opener fell the very next ball to Jarvis when he edged to the slips, as Croft made up for his early mistake to start a purple patch for the hosts.
Jarvis then removed Kent captain Rob Key 12 balls later after he had edged the ball through the slips for four off his first delivery, this time finding Davies, who had to dive forward to take the catch as the ball died on its way through to the keeper.
The fast bowler claimed his third wicket for 12 runs, continuing a rampant spell as he then accounted for the remaining Kent opener, forcing Denly to edge to Paul Horton at first slip, after he had reached 6,000 first-class runs.
Matters went from bad to worse for Kent when they lost their fourth wicket for just 31 runs as debutant Clark claimed his maiden first-class wicket, removing Brendan Nash for 16 when the left-hander needlessly chased at a wide delivery and edged to Davies.
After a nightmare spell for Kent, Darren Stevens and Sam Northeast put on a partnership worth 55 runs, scoring these runs at a good pace as they reached the fifty partnership in just 72 balls. Stevens has a good record against Lancashire and was responsible for ending their unbeaten run in 2013 when he hit a double-hundred at Canterbury to help Kent chase 418.
On this occasion he played a secondary role in his stand with Northeast, who made 70 in the aforementioned game, as Stevens was dropped on 14 just after tea by Simon Kerrigan fielding at mid-wicket.
Fortunately for Kerrigan, this drop didn’t cost Lancashire too much, as Siddle trapped Stevens lbw with only one more run added to his tally. The Kent all-rounder shouldered arms as the ball jagged back into the right-hander and Stevens started to walk towards the dressing room before the umpire had chance to raise his finger, awarding Siddle with his first wicket for the Red Rose at Old Trafford.
Conditions continued to deteriorate in Manchester as the day progressed but Lancashire made another timely breakthrough when Sam Billings became the third batsmen to fall for a score 28. Northeast (48*) set off for a quick single but he left Billings high and dry as Alviro Petersen gathered and threw the ball to Davies who whipped off the bails to end their partnership worth 42 runs.
The floodlights became a very necessary feature as conditions became unfriendly for batting, although they could not be blamed for the dismissal of Matt Coles, who fell with what proved to be the final ball of the day as rain settled in after he was bowled by Kerrigan.
Coles had hit the left-arm spinner for four with a delectable reverse-sweep and in trying to repeat the shot, the all-rounder was bowled for 19, signalling the end of the second day with Lancashire very much in control.