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County Championship 2021 – Darren Stevens century, Matt Milnes six-for seal Kent win despite lower-order defiance | Cricket

County Championship 2021 - Darren Stevens century, Matt Milnes six-for seal Kent win despite lower-order defiance | Cricket

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Matt Milnes picked up a career-best six-for © Getty Images


Kent 232 (Leaning 75*, Crawley 50, Parkinson 4-68) and 262 (Stevens 107*, Parkinson 5-75) beat Leicestershire 109 (Logan 3-9) and 253 (Mike 70, Barnes 70*, Milnes 6-53) by 132 runs

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Kent registered a first LV= Insurance County Championship win of the season as Leicestershire were beaten by 132 runs inside three days at the Uptonsteel County Ground but only after an extraordinary afternoon that saw the home side avert humiliation with a defiant rearguard action.

After 45-year-old Darren Stevens had completed a superb unbeaten century against his former county, pace bowler Matt Milnes finished with a career-best 6 for 53, but that told only half the story of a bizarre two sessions of play.

Needing to score an unlikely 386 to win on a pitch aiding spin and in swing-friendly overhead conditions, Leicestershire slumped to 20 for 6 at lunch. But an aggressive Ben Mike hit 70 off 52 balls to set off a vigorous wag of the tail that saw Ed Barnes match him with an unbeaten 70 and Will Davis make a career-best 42 as the last four wickets added a scarcely credible 233.

Stevens lit up the early part of the day, transforming his 55 overnight into an unbeaten 107 off just 28 deliveries before Leicestershire were able to winkle out his final partner.

The veteran lofted Mike and swept Callum Parkinson for four sixes over the short boundary and, as he celebrated his 37th career first-class century, Leicestershire needed no reminding that he should have been out on the second evening on 40 when he hit Barnes in the air to midwicket but neither of two converging fielders made the catch.

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Stevens scored 107 of the 120 runs added for Kent’s last five wickets before Colin Ackermann bowled James Logan to claim the one outstanding overnight. Stevens hit 13 fours and six sixes, facing just 70 balls.

What was always a daunting target then soon looked impossible for Leicestershire. Milnes made his first breakthrough in his third over as Hassan Azad was trapped in front and he could not have imagined he would have a five-for under his belt 21 balls later.

He had Ackerman caught at second slip off a yorker-length ball, bowled Louis Kimber, celebrated a fourth success as Harry Swindells misread the line and a fifth when Lewis Hill was caught behind down the leg side, sending Leicestershire to lunch six down from 12.1 overs, Stevens picking up the other wicket with an inswinger to Sam Evans.

But Mike began the afternoon by driving, hooking and pulling three fours in an over to see Milnes removed from the attack and continued apace as he and Parkinson added 77 in 10.3 overs before the introduction of Logan’s spin saw the latter caught behind.

Mike ultimately sliced Logan to wide long-off and though the result never looked in any doubt Barnes delayed it with an impressive second first-class fifty, adding 33 with Chris Wright, who was unlucky to be given out caught behind from a ball that appeared to come off his helmet as he went to hook Milnes, and 92 with Davis before the latter slashed at one from Nathan Gilchrist and Kent could finally celebrate.

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