County Championship: Leaders Essex bowl out Kent for 40 to win by three wickets

Sam Cook
Sam Cook ended with match figures of 12-65 for Essex
Specsavers County Championship Division One, Spitfire Ground, Canterbury (day three):
Kent 226 & 40: S Cook 7-23, Amir 2-16
Essex 114: Amir 28; Podmore 4-34 & 153-7: Wheater 30, Harmer 30; Claydon 3-21
Essex (19 pts) beat Kent (4 pt) by three wickets

County Championship leaders Essex skittled Kent for 40 on their way to winning a remarkable game at Canterbury that saw 26 wickets fall on day three.

Essex started the day 32-1, replying to Kent's first-innings 226, but collapsed to 114 all out thanks to 4-34 from Harry Podmore and Darren Stevens' 3-17.

The wickets continued to tumble as Kent then mustered just 40, with Sam Cook taking career-best figures of 7-23.

Chasing 153, Mohammad Amir hit the winning run to seal a three-wicket win.

It is expected to be the Pakistan paceman's last-ever act in a red-ball match, after he announced his retirement from Test cricket at the age of 27 last month.

In the end, the visitors got across the line relatively comfortably - although at 84-6 Kent were still in with a real chance of pulling off a huge upset after five wickets had fallen for only 23 runs.

Having gone into lunch facing a first-innings deficit of 112, it seemed completely implausible that Essex would finish the day by wrapping up a victory which extends their advantage at the top of the Division One table to 23 points.

Sam Cook produced an inspired performance with the ball to set up the result, first reducing the home side to 9-5 before polishing off the tail to end with match figures of 12-65.

No Kent batsmen reached double figures, as five of Cook's seven wickets were lbw, while Amir also chipped in with 2-16.

The flow of wickets appeared to have been stemmed as Alastair Cook helped Essex to 51-1 inside 11 overs of their chase, but his departure sparked another flurry of dismissals that kept the contest alive.

However, Simon Harmer and Adam Wheater put on 57 to settle any lingering nerves before Amir knocked off the final run.

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