Cricket: Kasprowicz foils Kent

Leicestershire 369 & 346-9dec Kent 420 & 92-3 Match drawn
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The Independent Online
AFTER Andrew Symonds' stunning 177 in Kent's first innings, the home county must have known that Leicestershire would not favour them with a last-day run chase - certainly not on a pitch that produced 966 runs in the first three. But by taking five wickets in the morning while the county champions added only 87 runs to their overnight lead of 126, Kent's seam bowlers, Martin Saggers and Julian Thompson, set up the prospect of Kent making their own target.

It was a brave effort, particularly with Dean Headley unable to bowl with blistered feet from a boot problem on Friday. They were backed unstintingly by Min Patel, who bowled his left-arm spin unchanged for 26 overs, and the wicket of David Millns on the stroke of lunch.

Thompson, coming on after 14 overs, made the vital incisions with 3 for 29 in an eight-over spell. Most crucial was his dismissal of Darren Maddy, bowled middle stump for 93, his highest score of the season. Until he drove round a ball of full length Maddy, 66 overnight, had never looked troubled in his innings of 202 balls and 12 fours. Nor had Iain Sutcliffe until Thompson's extra pace forced an inside edge off the left-hander's hurried defence.

One of two Leicestershire batsmen forced to retire hurt on Friday, Sutcliffe batted freely until Thompson surprised him. But there was little freedom about James Whitaker's resumption when he came back at the fall of the seventh wicket. Handicapped by a torn calf muscle, the luckless Leicestershire captain had scarcely exercised bat or runner when Saggers splattered his stumps.

Down from Durham and playing his first championship match for Kent, Saggers made the first breakthrough of the day when he had Aftab Habib lbw playing across the line. By bending his back he also showed that the wicket, like the game, was not as dead as it seemed. After lunch he had Jon Dakin caught in the gully without addition to the interval score before bowling Whitaker, and when Thompson bowled James Ormond the game looked set for a thrilling climax.

Once again, however, Michael Kasprowicz shored up the foxes' tail, assembling a maiden first-class 50 from 60 balls, including nine fours. More to the point, by squeezing another 80 out of the last two wickets, he extended Kent's task to 296 from 42 overs. They never looked like going for it.

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