Lancashire extended their superiority over Kent in their LV= County Championship encounter before rain stopped play for nearly two hours at Emirates Old Trafford.
The visitors were all out of for 252 and forced to follow on by Lancashire who had a first-innings lead of 192 runs, but Kent’s approach, coupled with the time lost to rain and bad light, means that the draw is now a strong possibility in this match.
Kent closed on a second innings score of 148/3 still trailing Lancashire by 44 runs as Brendan Nash and Sam Northeast ensured that the visitors had a chance of salvaging a draw from the game.
Lancashire enjoyed the better of the first hour despite a strong start from both of Kent’s overnight batsmen. Mitchell Claydon played with positive intent finding the boundary early on as the visitors avoided losing any wickets within the first half hour of the third day.
Northeast continued his impressive form with the bat, having scored more than 800 Championship runs for Kent since the start of July last season, as he reached his second fifty in as many innings in 109 deliveries.
Just as Lancashire looked to be struggling to find a breakthrough, they were gifted one as Claydon (21) guided a Peter Siddle (2-57) delivery into the hands of Ashwell Prince at gully, which gave Siddle his 400th first-class wicket.
Siddle was then involved with the next wicket 16 balls later as Northeast was tempted into hooking Kyle Jarvis (4-50) down to the Australian who, at long-leg, took a smart catch to remove the only Kent batsmen to make good of their start by scoring a half-century.
This wicket gave Jarvis combined figures of 9-63 across his last two innings for Lancashire as the Zimbabwean continued to prove just how much he has improved since his introduction last season. Simon Kerrigan (2-27) was then chaired with the responsibility of claiming the final Kent wicket when Paul Horton took a superb one-handed catch at first slip to dismiss Adam Riley (6).
Lancashire enforced the follow-on with Kent still trailing by the unsettling margin of 192 runs but Daniel Bell-Drummond and Joe Denly were able to survive the remaining 12 overs before the lunch interval unscathed.
However, just 18 deliveries into the new session debutant Jordan Clark (1-22) found a timely breakthrough for Lancashire as Bell-Drummond edged behind to Alex Davies for 18 with Kent losing their first wicker of the innings at 39/1.
Denly and captain Rob Key (34) were then responsible for ensuring that Kent did not suffer a collapse which may well have jeopardised their already unfavourable position in the match. The pair added a partnership worth 72 runs for the second wicket, as conditions became marginally more suited to batting than they had been in the morning session.
The 50 partnership was soon followed by a half-century for Denly in 96 balls, by which stage Kent had cut the overall deficit to just 86 runs, but the reintroduction of Siddle proved to be crucial as he removed Key with a corker of a delivery.
Siddle (1-17) steamed in and removed the Kent captain’s middle-stump, ending a determined partnership with Denly who was soon out himself to a delivery from Jarvis (1-29) which kept low, trapping Denly in front of all three stumps as he eventually fell lbw for 60.
With the first ball after the tea interval, the Zimbabwean removed Denly who, up until that stage, had offered very little to the Lancashire bowlers. This wicket gave Jarvis his tenth wicket in three innings for Lancashire at a cost of just 78 runs, but this was to be his and indeed Lancashire’s final success of the day, as a combination of determined batting and typically unfriendly weather put a dent in their rally for victory.
Nash’s innings of 18 not out has so far accounted for 70 deliveries, such was Kent’s approach to try not to lose the game, as he and Northeast (11*) added an unbeaten partnership worth 20 runs either side of the lengthy delay.
Menacing clouds initially stopped play for a combination of rain and bad light, but as the rain became heavier this delay became very much about the amount of time it would take for the ground staff to make the pitch suitable again.
Play resumed at 6.20pm as Kent were forced to bat for an uncomfortable four-over period, one they survived in the same manner with which they had batted before the delay had halted Lancashire’s onslaught.