Five Northamptonshire batsmen made half centuries as Northants compiled a handy first innings lead of 102 against Kent on Day Three at Wantage Road, only for the visitors to reply strongly, as they reached the close 88-1.
After Alex Wakely and Jake Libby’s fifties on Day Two, Adam Rossington, Rory Kleinveldt and Olly Stone all posted further half centuries as Northants streaked their first innings to 498 on another friendly batting pitch at Northampton.
However, the visitors had all but wiped out the lead by the end of the day. Daniel Bell-Drummond made an unbeaten 50 and, with rain forecast for much of Wednesday, a third successive Wantage Road draw looks likely.
It was trial by spin for Kent in their second innings as Monty Panesar opened the bowling, combining with Rob Keogh to bowl 19 of the 29 overs in the final session. Whilst the pitch offered a hint of assistance, Tom Latham was the only man to fall, bowled by one that turned through the gate from Panesar for 24, by which stage Kent had halved their deficit.
That would be the only wicket to fall in the end, as first innings centurion Joe Denly joined Bell-Drummoned in seeing out the rest of the day with few alarms. Olly Stone even turned to spin, perhaps out of desperation at the lack of assistance, in the final over.
Northants head coach David Ripley admitted after the stalemate with Derbyshire two weeks ago that the ground staff were struggling to produce result wickets without leaving them green. It has once again proved the case, with the match seemingly drifting towards a draw since the outset.
The match briefly burst into life in the morning session, as Rossington and Kleinveldt showed it was possible to score quickly on the surface, the pair hitting half centuries at better than a run a ball.
Northants losing Richard Levi to Mitchell Claydon’s fifth delivery with the new ball, but upon passing the follow-on mark and only realist chance of defeat, noticeably upped the tempo as Rossington arrived at the crease. He took advantage of the short leg side boundary to club three sixes and five fours in a 46 ball fifty, his third of the season.
Josh Cobb fell for a more patient 40, when he edged a drive from Inram Qayyum to slip, the left arm spinners maiden first-class wicket. Rob Keogh soon followed for just nine on his first team return, playing one off Matt Hunn, but Rory Kleinveldt picked up where he left off against Derbyshire at Wantage Road, when he clubbed a brutal 97.
The pair took the attack to Qayyam, as Northants raced from 300 to 350 in just five overs, raising hopes of gaining the maximum batting points that had looked extremely unlikely at the end of the day, only to fall five runs short after Rossington edged Claydon behind on 78.
His departure saw the match return to the more pedestrian pace that had become the norm, Kleinveldt and Stone adding 50 for the eight wicket in 18 overs, Stone easing to a maiden first-class 50 with ease despite losing Kleinveldt LBW to Hunn for 71.