Dravid shepherds Kent to the brink of safety

The Kent batsmen made more leisurely progress than the Yorkshiremen had done on the first day, but they will still have had the satisfaction of knowing that their place in the First Division is effectively safe. If they collect four more points from this match and their last at Leicester, not even mathematical intricacies can send them down.

The Kent batsmen made more leisurely progress than the Yorkshiremen had done on the first day, but they will still have had the satisfaction of knowing that their place in the First Division is effectively safe. If they collect four more points from this match and their last at Leicester, not even mathematical intricacies can send them down.

They owe most to Rahul Dravid, their Indian import who was being watched by his parents from the Committee Room. Kent lost a couple of early wickets before Dravid, who was in no hurry, and Ed Smith gave the innings a good base with a third-wicket stand of 177.

The pitch gave the bowlers little encouragement and Yorkshire's attack, like Kent's, was well below full strength. In an attempt to disconcert the batsmen, David Byas changed his bowlers around but no one looked like causing a surprise on this amiable surface.

In the first over of the Kent innings, David Fulton played Matthew Hoggard off his pads to the square-leg boundary with an ease which Yorkshire, who are still hoping to finish in second place, will have found dispiriting. Kent had progressed without difficulty to 34 when, in the 10th over, Robert Key tried to pull Greg Lambert and skied to mid-on.

Soon after the fifty had arrived, Fulton played forward to Gavin Hamilton and lost his off stump when the ball left him. The next ball must have been within a whisker of having Smith lbw and to add to Yorkshire's frustrations one of the slips shied at the stumps at the bowler's end with Dravid slow to get back, and three overthrows were given away.

Dravid was always in control. When the bad ball came along it was punished elegantly but he ventured little apart from that, happy to steer Kent quietly to batting points and an eventual draw which would reward them with four more points. It was a most sensible innings.

Smith overcame his uneasy start and also played a responsible innings apart from one piece of luck. When he was 24 he tried to glance Ian Fisher and was dropped down the leg side by Simon Guy who, for the most part, kept well.

Otherwise, Smith played some good strokes off both feet and it is surprising to find that before this match such a talented batsman should only have scored 322 runs in 14 innings this year, including one knock of 175 against Durham.

Dravid reached his 50 just before tea from 112 balls and the 100 stand came soon after the interval. Hoggard then removed both Dravid and Smith in the space of seven runs and on a gloomy evening Kent still needed 20 more for their first batting bonus point. When bad light ended things eight overs early, they still needed another six.

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