Lewis spearheads charge as hapless Kent stumble

Kent 129 Gloucestershire 127-5
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The Independent Online

Jon Lewis and debutant, Shabbir Ahmed, put Gloucestershire in position for early-season revenge over Kent as the hosts were bowled out for 129. Chris Taylor's side were on the wrong end of a contrived result in a rain-affected County Championship match at Bristol last month. But by the time bad light brought an early close they had hustled Kent out in under 40 overs and replied with 127 for 5 on a pitch unlikely to sustain a four-day contest.

A mandatory report was required of umpires David Constant and Barrie Leadbeater, following the fall of 15 wickets in two sessions, but they were not minded to judge the surface as sub-standard.

Lewis (5 for 46) and Shabbir (3 for 34) each found plenty of life from the Pavilion end to steam through the Kent batting, after the Championship leaders chose to bat first in cloudy conditions. It was the Pakistani fast bowler who did the important work by striking in consecutive overs to take the first three wickets for five runs in 14 balls. But once Lewis had switched ends he proved no slouch either as the Kent middle order and tail folded.

Shabbir's first victim was David Fulton, who fell to a length ball which kicked enough for a smart catch low down at third slip by Alex Gidman. Bristol centurion Robert Key pushed a catch off Shabbir to short-leg where Tim Hancock snapped up the chance, and England batsman Ed Smith got one that really kicked from the same bowler to give Gidman his second slip catch. Kent were looking to Andrew Symonds to do a job against his old county. But Lewis had the dangerous Australian nicking a catch behind on the back foot.

James Averis got in on the act with a ball that knocked off Michael Carber's off-stump and then Lewis bagged Geraint Jones, who went the way of his predecessors, undone by a ball which bounced more than expected for a slip catch.

Shabbir conceded 12 runs in one over to help the left-handed alliance of Matthew Walker and James Tredwell post three figures. But after lunch Kent lost their last specialist batsman when Walker sought to drive but played on to Lewis, and his was the first of the final four wickets to fall for five runs.

The Gloucestershire openers had a fearsome new-ball pair to face in Martin Saggers and Mohammad Sami, and it was too much for Philip Weston, who gave a return catch to Saggers. Hancock went lbw for nought, and the game was in the balance when Kent nipped out two more wickets with the score on 73. Shoaib Malik went caught behind and then Craig Spearman - who had batted with assurance for his 42 - clipped Saggers' loosener straight into the hands of square-leg.