Cricket Round-Up: Key puts up stout fight but Kent's title hopes wash away in the rain

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The Independent Online

Kent's Frizzell County Champion-ship hopes are fading after they could only hang on for a draw against Middlesex at Lord's.

The nine points they received after play eventually ended with their score on 192 for 7 - just 26 ahead of their opponents - now means they are 19.5 points behind the leaders, Nottinghamshire.

With rain affecting the final day Middlesex declared on 550 for 9, and despite a solid start, with 52 from Robert Key helping them to 90 for 1, Kent then lost four wickets for 28 runs.

Andrew Symonds produced an outstanding innings to earn Lancashire a first-innings lead of 73 runs against fellow promotion hopefuls Essex in their Division Two clash at Chelmsford. In pursuit of the visitors' total of 340, the home side lost three wickets before wiping out the deficit, and by the close were only 61 runs ahead with four wickets left.

Symonds completely dominated the Essex attack, playing fluently on both sides of the wicket to restore his side's fortunes after they had lost half of their wickets for 153 runs. However, having faced 138 balls and struck a six and 15 other boundaries to reach 98, he pushed forward to a delivery from Danish Kaneria that was caught at slip to end a seventh-wicket stand worth 126 with Glenn Chapple.

The loss of Symonds heralded a dramatic collapse as the last four wickets fell in five balls without a run added.

Essex began their second innings positively, putting on 31 in five overs before James Anderson had Alastair Cook caught at deep backward square leg.

But it was the introduction of the Indian Test spinner Murali Kartak that was to have the telling effect. Making his Championship debut, he followed up his five-wicket haul in the first innings by picking up three wickets in 19 balls at a cost of nine runs before adding a fourth wicket with the final ball of the day to finish with 4 for 28.

He had Will Jefferson caught at second slip for 35, while Grant Flower was beaten by turn before the bowler accounted for Andy Flower, who gave the substitute wicketkeeper Gareth Cross a catch.

Surrey's chances of avoiding relegation from Division One were weakened when rain washed out the first day against Warwickshire at Edgbaston. The home side could still include the South Africa fast bowler Makhaya Ntini in their team even though he may have to return home on Tuesday, the last day of the match.

Ntini is required to report to a national squad training camp next week, but Warwickshire claim their agreement is that players should be released only for international matches.

Ntini, who joined the county last month in place of Zimbabwe's Heath Streak, said: "I can't say no. South Africa are my employers."

Yorkshire's hopes of a sixth win were ended by bad weather on the fourth day of their Division Two match with Worcestershire at Headingley. Only five overs were possible, and Yorkshire, chasing 203, took their score to 125 for 2 before the umpires abandoned the game.

Both sides took 10 points, with Worcestershire then having two points deducted because they had bowled their overs too slowly.