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Stewart ton puts Kent in control against Middlesex

PUBLISHED: 21:32 26 June 2018 | UPDATED: 07:55 27 June 2018

A close-up view of a cricket scoreboard (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

A close-up view of a cricket scoreboard (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

©TGS Photo tgsphoto.co.uk +44 1376 553468

Kent all-rounder Grant Stewart blasted a maiden first-class century from only 71 balls to leave Middlesex with a mountain to climb at the mid-point of their pink ball Specsavers County Championship clash at Canterbury.

Stewart, who starred with the ball by taking a career-best 6-22 to help dismiss Middlesex for 56 in their first innings, clattered 13 fours and five sixes as he and last man Ivan Thomas added 100 for Kent’s 10th wicket – to which Thomas contributed a single.

Stewart’s lusty 103, in only his fifth first-class game, was the highest ever individual county championship score by a Kent player batting in the number 10 berth, beating the 91 by Wykeham Cornwallis – also known as the 3rd Baron Cornwallis of Linton – against Essex at Canterbury in 1926.

Facing a mammoth victory target of 467, Middlesex eventually got to bat again in the twilight at 8.35pm and at almost the same time that their top-order unravelled under the lights the previous evening.

They made a disastrous start to the 10 overs through to stumps when Max Holden feathered Harry Podmore’s third delivery to the keeper to go without scoring, while Stevie Eskinazi fenced at a spiteful lifter and edged to second slip off the same bowler to go for five.

Sam Robson and nightwatchman Ravi Patel saw it through to stumps on 22-2 to reduce the victory target to 449 going into the third day of four when Kent will scent wrapping up their fifth win of the campaign.

Having finally dismissed Middlesex for 56, with Stewart picking up the visitors’ final wicket of Tim Murtagh, Kent opted to pile on the runs by batting again instead of enforcing the follow-on. A decision fully vindicated once Stewart hammered his belligerent ton late in the day.

Though overhead conditions appeared ideal in sunny daylight hours, Kent again found batting a perilous pastime against the pink Dukes’ ball.

Sean Dickson prodded half forward with bat tucked in, to go bw to a James Harris off-cutter, as did Daniel Bell-Drummond, after playing across Murtagh’s off-cutter that jagged back up the slope.

Joe Denly batted 40 minutes for two before his patience snapped with a loose, mistimed drive against Hilton Cartwright that picked out extra cover.

Middlesex bowled well to pick up five Kentish wickets in the mid-session. Heino Kuhn reached a 76-ball 50 – his fourth of the championship campaign and the first of the match – only to depart to a contentious catch behind the stumps when jabbing down late on a full ball from Murtagh.

Murtagh then pegged back Billings’ off stump as the Kent captain shouldered arms. The 78-minute stay for 29 represented Billings’ highest score for the county this season.

Adam Rouse perished lbw after being struck below the right knee-roll by Cartwright, while Calum Haggett nicked off to slip against Ravi Patel then, just before tea at 6.55pm, Harry Podmore worked across the line to Cartwright.

Zak Crawley’s stay ended in a stumping off Patel early in the final session, but Stewart’s agricultural late hitting tipped the balance firmly in Kent’s favour and left Middlesex in deep trouble.

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