Hampshire’s chances of finishing third in this season’s Specsavers County Championship first division improved greatly after they bossed first day proceedings against Kent in Canterbury.
When bad light stopped play at 5pm, Hampshire had reached 80 for three after 21 overs having already dismissed the hosts – their closest rivals to collect the £88,000 cheque for finishing third – for only 147 runs inside 44 overs.
Darren Stevens, the evergreen Kent all-rounder picked up two of the wickets to fall, while Harry Podmore had Ian Holland caught in the cordon without scoring, but when bad light intervened the visitors had reduced the first-innings deficit to 67 runs.
Batting first after an uncontested toss, Kent were reduced to 79 for six during a torrid opening session when only three batsmen reached double figures.
Kyle Abbott, Fresh from his career-best bowling figures of 17 for 86 against Somerset last week, took three in his opening two bursts, as did new-ball partner Keith Barker, the former Warwickshire left-armer.
Abbott, the South African, was back among the wickets bowling Zak Crawley with his second ball of the game as the Kent opener shouldered arms to lose his off stump.
Crawley soon put the dismissal behind him, however, after receiving a mid-day phone call from National Selector, Ed Smith, confirming his place in England’s Test squad to tour New Zealand this autumn.
Abbott returned soon after to run one away from the defensive prod of Sam Billings and have the Kent skipper caught behind.
Barker bustled in from the Pavilion End to rush one through Ollie Robinson’s gate sparking a brief counter attack by fourth-wicket partners Heino Kuhn and Daniel Bell-Drummond that garnered four boundaries in eight deliveries.
The ploy backfired when Kuhn chipped a Barker slower ball to mid-off to make it 25 for four, then Barker switched to the Nackington Road End to draw a veil over the tortuous 31-minute stay of Jordan Cox with one that held its own against the slope to rattle the young right-hander’s off stump.
Stevens, who scored a career-best 237 against Yorkshire last week, sidled in to a warm ovation from Kent supporters who fear that this could yet prove to be his last match for the county.
The veteran all-rounder opened his boundary account by leaning into an off drive against Fidel Edwards, then moving onto the back foot to late cut the same bowler’s next delivery to the third man ropes.
Wickets continued to fall at the other end as Bell-Drummond, having survived numerous appeals, finally went leg before to Abbott for 39 in the penultimate over before lunch.
After a short delay for rain, Kent resumed only to lose their last four wickets for 68 runs as Barker bagged a worthy five for 48.
Stevens went without addition to his 17, leg before as Barker jagged one back off the seam, then Podmore heaved across the line and dragged onto his stumps for Barker’s fifth.
Rayner joint-top scored with 39 before miscuing a hook to long leg then Matt Miles miscued to mid-on to become the sole victim to spin as Kent succumbed inside 43.5 overs.
Abbott finished with three for 49, while Edwards and Liam Dawson claimed one wicket apiece.
The second day of Kent's Specsavers County Championship clash with Hampshire was abandoned without a ball being bowled in Canterbury.
Heavy overnight rain continued throughout the morning and though match umpires Ian Gould and Ben Debenham inspected at 1pm and 1.40pm when the showers briefly abated, the rain returned soon afterwards leading to their abandonment just before 2pm.
Hampshire will hope to resume their first innings on 80 for three, a deficit of 67, on Wednesday morning at 10.30am, although forecasters have warned of further rain in the region.
For the second day running not a ball was bowled in Canterbury between Kent and Hampshire in the fight for third place in the Specsavers County Championship top flight.
Match umpires Ben Debenham and Ian Gould Inspected once the rain stopped at 2pm and deemed that the putfield was too sodden for any action to be safely undertaken.
The game will now go into its fourth and final day tomorrow (Thursday) when Hampshire will hope to resume on their first innings 80 for three in reply to Kent's 147 all out.
Hampshire's final Specsavers County Championship match of the season against Kent ended as a damp squib in Canterbury after the fourth and final day was abandoned without a ball bowled.
Umpires Ben Debenham and Ian Gould, who had abandoned days two and three due to rain, had little option but to do the same. With the outfield sodden they called the game off just after 9.30am.
With Yorkshire and Warwickshire sharing the spoils at Edgbaston, Hampshire's draw at Canterbury secures a third-place finish in this year's top-tier.