Kent 327 & 334-2 Lancashire 317: Lancashire unable to stop Key and Walker without Muralitharan

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The Independent Online

Reports of Muttiah Muralitharan's absence from the forthcoming World Twenty20 in South Africa, were, apparently, a trifle premature.

According to the Lancashire physiotherapist Sam Byrne, the club is still awaiting a report on the scan of the Sri Lanka off-spinner's right biceps and until more is known about the extent of the injury no decision on Murali's participation in the Twenty20 or the one-day series against England that follows it, could be made.

Byrne added: "We are liaising with the Sri Lankan medical staff daily. We will be a lot wiser when we get the reports back tomorrow. But it will be the Sri Lankans who will make the call on the World Twenty20."

The one certainty is that Muralitharan's Championship season is over. He was a frustrated spectator yesterday as Robert Key and Matthew Walker ground any lingering hopes of a Lancashire victory into the low, slow pitch with an unbroken 269-run stand.

With no Muralitharan doosra to worry them the Kent third-wicket pair were given a comfortable ride as they built on a modest first innings lead of 10 runs.

Walker had joined his captain after the departure of first James Tredwell, the stand-in opener (Joe Denly, the regular, can only bat at the fall of the fifth wicket after missing the whole of day two with a tummy bug) then Martin van Jaarsveld.

His arrival signalled the start of a long spell of torture for Lancashire. Both men have been in touch of late, Walker scoring a hundred first time around in this match, and Key is just full of runs, as Lancashire discovered.

The Kent captain cruised to his hundred in a little over four hours, stately progress as befits a fine batsman scoring his third hundred in four Championship innings and on the way he also passed 1,000 runs in a season for the fifth time in his career.

This, his fifth century of the season and the 35th of his career, contained ten fours, a raft of stunning shots and not a sniff of a chance until he was well past the mark, when there was a close call for a run-out, but Key survived that, going on to pass 150.

Walker was no less imperious, picking up from where he had been forced to leave off in the first innings, and he duly reached three figures for the second time in the match – the second time he has achieved the feat of scoring a hundred in each innings.

Earlier Lancashire lost their final wicket to the ninth ball of the morning, when Martin Saggers completed his first five-wicket haul for Kent since August 2003, although he claimed five wickets in an innings when on loan to Essex earlier this summer.

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