Stumps, day two: Northamptonshire 206-3 (Libby 81, Wakely 87; Haggett 2-58) trail Kent 396 (Denly 206; Kleinveldt 3-53, Panesar 3-122) by 190 runs
Joe Denly made a maiden double century for Kent before Northamptonshire hit back with fifties from captain Alex Wakely and Jake Libby on the second day of the County Championship Division Two match at Wantage Road.
Denly resumed on 123 and raced to 200 in the morning, finishing 206* not out as Kent added 107 for their final three wickets before being bowled out for 396, Monty Panesar taking a third wicket to finish with 3-122 on his comeback to the Northants side.
The hosts lost Ben Duckett early but Libby and Wakely added 156 for the second wicket, only for both to fall short of a century, the skipper out for 87 before Libby followed for 81 as Northants closed on 206-3, trailing by 190.
Nine of the last 11 Championship matches at Wantage Road have been drawn, and with another pitch offering little in the way of assistance for both seamers and spinners, together with the forecast for rain on Wednesday, Wakely admitted another draw is likely to be on the cards whilst lamenting a missed chance for both him and Libby to reach three figures.
“Both me and Jake are pretty disappointed, it wasn’t easy out there even though it was quite a flat pitch,” he said. “It was quite hard to score, it wasn’t bouncing very much and hard to time the ball, so from that point of view it was good, I enjoyed batting with Jake, we’ve managed to get a 100 partnership in the last two games together.
“If you see anything wide you think you’ve got to go for it and cash in and it was our undoing for both of us, there were periods where they bowled lots of dot balls, but I’m pleased with the position we’re in.
“It’s been slow going but if we carry on and try and get as many as possible you never know, any sort of lead on these pitches it’s only getting lower and lower so let’s imagine we can get 100 ahead, it’s a big ask but if you could, you never know.
“Our four day cricket has been indifferent this year, we’ve played some good days and some poor days, haven’t managed to string it all together, so unfortunately on this wicket it looks like the pitch might be the winner again.”
Kent had let a dominant position slip on the opening day, falling from 202-2 to 300-7 overnight, but the morning was all about Denly, despite losing Mitchell Claydon in the fifth over of the day, stumped off Panesar, as the spinner got through 40 overs on his return to First class action.
Matt Hunn joined Denly to frustrate the hosts with a ninth wicket partnership worth 68, Hunn batting for almost an hour for his three runs, in which time Denly accelerated to move from 150 to 200 in just 34 balls, lifting Muhammed Azharullah for six to seal a fourth batting bonus point in the 110th over.
Denly had fallen agonisingly short of a double century in his career best 199 against Hampshire in 2011, but despite Hunn being bowled by Rob Keogh, he made no mistake cutting Rory Kleinveldt for four to reach the milestone after seven hours at the crease.
Inram Qayyum’s First Class debut lasted one ball as Kleinveldt wrapped up the Kent innings, and Northants were 17-1 by lunch after Ben Duckett drove a wide delivery from Darren Stevens straight to point.
However Libby and Wakely ensure there would be no further wickets in the afternoon as they ground out an assured partnership, low on thrill buts also crucially of chances.
Libby had his loan from Nottinghamshire extended to allow him to play in this and Northants next game, and continued his good form that saw him hit a century in his last outing at Wantage Road against Derbyshire.
Once again sure in defence, a traditional opener, he worked away at his own pace, Wakely struggling to begin with before picking up the pace hitting both Haggett and Qayyum for sixes, the pair reaching their half centuries in the same over off 128 and 100 balls respectively.
Wakely celebrated his 100th First Class game at Grace Road but with only four centuries to his name the 27 year old is still waiting for a true breakthrough year, and saw a golden opportunity for a century go by as, when 13 away, he chased a wide one from Haggett and was caught behind.
Libby was more patient in reaching 81 but then followed in the same fashion, this time a bit shorter from Haggett but wide and Libby gave Adam Rouse a second simple catch, leaving Josh Cobb and Richard Levi to play out to rest of the day.