Worcestershire v Kent: Matt Coles shines as Joe Leach's men turn up heat at New Road

Worcestershire captain Joe Leach
Worcestershire captain Joe Leach took his season's haul to 36 first-class wickets
Specsavers County Championship Division Two, New Road:
Kent 260: Coles 47, Northeast 42; Leach 3-42, Tongue 3-56
Worcestershire 95-3: Moeen 37, Clarke 34*; Coles 2-28
Worcestershire trail Kent by 165 runs with 7 wickets remaining
Worcestershire 3 pts; Kent 3 pts

England's Moeen Ali made 37 and took a wicket on his return to County Championship duty in the meeting of second against third in Division Two.

But on a sizzlingly hot first day when 13 wickets fell, it was pretty much honours even as hosts Worcestershire closed on 95-3, in reply to Kent's 260.

Kent were on 139-7 after three wickets for Joe Leach before Matt Coles hit 47 in a 79-run stand with Adam Rouse (34).

Worcestershire then rallied well late on themselves after slumping to 48-3.

A baking day in soaring temperatures began with home captain Leach bowling an inspired opening spell of 7-3-7-2 from the New Road end after Kent had opted to bat.

He took three wickets, as did teenage paceman Josh Tongue (3-56), before the hosts ended the day still trailing by 165 runs, but with Joe Clarke set on 34 not out, having so far put on 47 with the recalled George Rhodes (16 not out).

Worcestershire ring the changes

Following successive Championship defeats, batsman Rhodes' inclusion for a first Championship start of the season, instead of paceman Jack Shantry, was one of three changes.

Moeen replaced the out-of-form Tom Fell, while Australian all-rounder John Hastings came in to take two wickets in his first Championship game since returning from Champions Trophy duty to replace compatriot Nathan Lyon.

Kent were unchanged from the dramatic draw with Durham, which maintained their unbeaten start to the season, but this is the start of a tough run of three Championship matches away from their Canterbury headquarters.

After taking on Worcestershire, they visit current leaders Nottinghamshire for the inaugural round of day-night games, starting on 26 June, and then it is back to one of their outgrounds on Monday, 3 July, for a home game with Northamptonshire at Beckenham.

Worcestershire assistant coach Matt Mason told BBC Hereford & Worcester:

"It was a pretty even day after the way that last session went. With the ball we were fairly happy. We would have taken their score at the start of the day because it's a good surface.

"There was a little bit of suspect batting from them as well and some good bowling from us. At 140-7, you could argue that we'd have wanted to finish things off a little bit sooner.

"Then we had a frantic start to our innings and, at the end of the day, to be nearly 100-3 is not a bad effort for the start of our chase."

Kent all-rounder Matt Coles told BBC Radio Kent:

"260 is a challenging total. Moeen Ali then got away a little bit at the start of their innings. He came out all guns blazing. But it was a good to get that wicket and a couple more and we are in a decent position.

"There was a little bit there for the bowlers as we proved this evening. If we stick to our basics, then there is no reason why we can't have a lead going into the second innings.

"We've got to bowl as straight as possible, don't give them too much room. If we can be relentless with line and length for as long as we can, I'm sure we will get the rewards."

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