Patel disrupts tourists on comeback with five-wicket haul

New Zealand 409 Kent 296-4

The New Zealanders' batting practice was rudely interrupted at the St Lawrence Ground yesterday by a left-arm spinner who last played in 2002.

The New Zealanders' batting practice was rudely interrupted at the St Lawrence Ground yesterday by a left-arm spinner who last played in 2002.

Min Patel underwent back surgery at the beginning of last season and spent the rest of the summer recuperating. But, far from affecting his ability or dulling his appetite, this "gap year" would appear to have been of some benefit to him.

He displayed control and guile as he worked steadily through some of the tourists' bigger hitters, most notably Nathan Astle and the acting captain, Chris Cairns. Patel's reward was his first five-wicket haul since playing Warwickshire at Maidstone in July 2002.

And when Patel had finished with them there was more misery in store for the tourists via the bat of Robert Key, who took advantage of a placid pitch to plunder his second hundred of the summer and help Kent to make significant progress in their first-innings reply.

Patel won his second - and last - England cap in July 1996, but this performance should hearten England's present first-choice left-arm spinner, Ashley Giles. And there were other performances from Kent that would have cheered the England management. The wicketkeeper, Geraint Jones, had a tidy morning with three catches.

The New Zealanders' approach was in sharp contrast to their first day's leisurely meanderings. At one point they suffered a mini-collapse, losing four wickets in 27 balls for a dozen runs. But amid the mayhem Scott Styris, Astle and Cairns really got stuck into the Kent attack; Cairns reached his half-century, the others falling short.

Appropriately, it was Patel who wrapped up the New Zealand innings when he bowled Daryl Tuffey, to finish with 5 for 56.

Then came Key, dispatching anything short or over-pitched in brutal fashion. His bat must have looked as wide as the Tasman Sea as Key, a sometime England batsman, hammered his way to his hundred off 111 balls. He and Matt Walker added 90 for the third wicket, and after both had perished the in-form Michael Carberry and Jones took their fifth-wicket stand up to three figures.

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