It came down to spit and polish. Zimbabwe lacked the former, Rahul Dravid possessed the latter. The Indian Test batsman finished the day on the brink of his fifth double hundred, having enabled Kent to subjugate and subdue an already depleted tourist attack as they finished the day 221 runs ahead.
The former Australian fast bowler Jeff Thomson will have his work cut out injecting some aggression into an attack which was further depleted yesterday when Mpumelelo Mbangwa hobbled off in the morning after turning an ankle. The first Test looms less than a fortnight away but he is not panicking.
"England are a bit tougher to beat at home," said Tommo, Zimbabwe's caretaker coach, "but Zimbabwe should not lose any sleep about playing them. They were unlucky to lose in the West Indies. Zimbabwe are a tough lot. They would be magicians if they did not worry about all the shit going on back home. If they had been England or Australia, they would probably have called the tour off by now."
So, after watching Kent in general, and Dravid in particular, pummel and punish what was left of their bowling, Tommo's analysis of the task confronting him was perfectly straightforward. "As a bowler it is important to be aggressive. No matter whether you bowl fast, medium or spin you have to assert yourself over the batsman, it is part of being a winner and that is what I will be trying to get across."
As Dravid cruised imperiously for almost six-and-a-half hours with wristy on-side shots, savage pulls, happy hooks and effortless offside drives and cuts, there was a distinctly flabby look to the tourists' attack. One over by Dirk Viljoen saw Dravid dispatch three successive deliveries to the on-side boundary, clipping, pulling and whipping the battered ball. Things looked good, but Dravid had emerged with Kent in a parlous state at 11 for 2 and they lost another wicket before he got off the mark.
The balance quickly shifted though, Dravid allowing Alan Wells to dominate a stand of 104 which had Zimbabwe flagging. Then, after Wells fell following a pugnacious 58 splattered with punchy boundaries, he took up the cudgels.
He had James Hockley, a neophyte playing only his second first-class innings, but who is regarded in Kent as a promising off-spinning all-rounder, as his partner, but there were no alarms, just excursions for the toiling fielders. For 54 overs Hockley, 21 last month, sat back and let Dravid call the tune, while he played a sound second fiddle.
There was no respect shown for the new ball, either. Dravid quickly took the gloss off it in one Neil Johnson over as he smashed it to the leg-side boundary boards in four consecutive balls.
Having taken 175 balls to reach the 27th first class hundred of his career the 27-year-old Dravid, whose versatility with the bat was underlined when he emerged as the leading run scorer in last year's World Cup (including two centuries), moved into overdrive and took just 32 to pass the 150-mark after a shade over five hours in the middle.
Having done so he lost the services of Hockley, whose maiden first-class fifty ended tamely at short extra after more than three hours of application. CANTEBURY SCOREBOARD
Overnight: Zimbabwe 159 (M M Patel 4-44, D D Masters 4-44). Kent 10-1. Close
Kent First Innings
R W T Key lbw b Streak 4 D D Masters c Carlisle b Mbangwa 0 R Dravid not out 182 A P Wells c Johnson b Viljoen 58 J B Hockley c Sub b Whittall 74 P A Nixon not out 27 Extras b7 lb10 w2 nb12 31
Total 5 wkts (110 overs) 380
Fall: 1-6 2-11 3-11 4-115 5-323 To Bat: M V Fleming, J M Golding, M M Patel, D A Scott.
Bowling Streak 22 7 49 2 Mbangwa 9 3 14 1 Johnson 14 3 64 0 Nkala 13 0 62 0 Whittall 20 2 75 1 Viljoen 9 0 48 1 Flower 21 6 42 0 Gripper 2 0 9 0
Umpires: M J Harris and J W LloydsReuse content