Lancashire take command after Mahmood stuns Kent

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The Independent Online

Saj Mahmood finished with five for 55 as Lancashire continued to defy some of the grimmer predictions about their prospects for 2010 by giving themselves a chance of claiming a third win in three matches against Kent at Old Trafford, although their position would be stronger still but for the heroics of all-rounder Darren Stevens.

Going in with Kent 53 for 4 in reply to Lancashire's 320, Stevens hit 101 off 129 balls despite wickets falling all around him. Only 19-year-old seam bowler Matthew Coles offered any meaningful support, contributing 33 to an eighth-wicket stand of 92, which left Stevens largely to perform a one-man rescue act with his 10 fours and two sixes, without which Lancashire's first-innings lead of 107 would have been substantially bigger.

Glen Chapple dropped him on 53 but it was a difficult chance, running backwards at mid-on. Chapple's three wickets took his career tally for Lancashire beyond 700.

Kent came back into the contest a little in a final session shortened by bad light, Makhaya Ntini picking up two wickets, but Lancashire have a lead of 175 with seven wickets standing.

Warwickshire all-rounder Chris Woakes hit his maiden first-class century against Hampshire at Southampton last year and bettered that yesterday with an unbeaten 136. His side forged a 99-run lead having at one point teetered at 98 for 7 in the face of some high-quality seam bowling from Kabir Ali and James Tomlinson.

Billy Godleman's century helped Essex build a positive response to Somerset's 387 at Taunton, but his side still trail by 125 and three wickets for leg-spinner Michael Munday, who counted Godleman among his victims, suggested they may struggle this morning.

Derbyshire's unexpectedly successful start in Division Two continued at Northampton, where captain Chris Rogers took his aggregate as the season's leading run-scorer to 563 with his third century. An unbeaten 163 from Wayne Madsen stretched Derbyshire's first-innings lead to 157.

Veteran Paul Nixon is leading a Leicestershire fightback against Sussex at Hove, where they trailed by 278 on first innings after Murray Goodwin's 142 and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan's 101.