Leaders Nottinghamshire facing first defeat of season

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The Independent Online

With four front-line seamers unavailable, Championship leaders Nottinghamshire suspected they might be hard pressed to contain Kent's batsmen. What they did not anticipate is such a below-par performance from their own, which has left Kent with a grip on this match which should translate into a first win of the season today.

With four front-line seamers unavailable, Championship leaders Nottinghamshire suspected they might be hard pressed to contain Kent's batsmen. What they did not anticipate is such a below-par performance from their own, which has left Kent with a grip on this match which should translate into a first win of the season today.

Strengthened by the addition of Stephen Fleming to their middle-order, Nottinghamshire had posted first-innings totals of 546, 509 and 692 in their opening three matches but after struggling to come to terms with the bounce in this Trent Bridge pitch, were dismissed for a paltry 184 after resuming yesterday nine down for 169, the first time they had failed to claim a single batting point at home in two years.

Kent then produced a second innings that was almost a duplicate of their first, lacking a dominant score but with enough worthwhile contributions to make for a total of substance. David Fulton eventually decided that 298 for 8 was enough, leaving Nottinghamshire to chase a daunting 416 to win.

It should not be assumed to be beyond them. Four years ago, needing a seemingly impossible 458 to beat Worcestershire, they got them with seven wickets to spare, setting a county record. Darren Bicknell scored 104 on that occasion but lost his wicket (17) to Andrew Hall yesterday evening, which may or may not be an omen.

Kent's second innings seemed to confirm the uncertainties in the pitch, with no batsmen ever looking entirely comfortable. Fulton and Rob Key built a decent platform but their attacking approach ultimately saw both caught behind.

Rain hastened an early finish soon after Bicknell's departure, leaving Nottinghamshire to chase a further 370 today but with a first defeat of the season the likeliest outcome.

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