Mullaney century leaves Notts in strong position against Kent

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A century from Steven Mullaney has enabled Nottinghamshire to build a substantial first innings lead over Kent in their day-night Specsavers County Championship match at Trent Bridge.

The 30-year old made a career best 168 before edging Matt Coles behind. Mullaney was at the crease for just over six hours and faced 276 balls, hitting 23 of them for four and another two for sixes.

Earlier, he had completed a fourth wicket partnership of 222 in 47.5 overs with Alex Hales, who made 85, as the home side raced past Kent’s meagre first innings score of 180.

With their last five wickets falling for only 35 Notts were bowled out for 371 just before the second break of the day, giving them an advantage of 191.

After almost two days of complete dominance over their promotion rivals, Notts then had some cause for concern as Jake Ball left the action early into the Kent second innings.

With the Royal London One-Day Cup final just a few days away and a Test series to follow, hopefully the decision for him to leave the field was just a precaution.

Ball had already taken a wicket by that stage and Kent suffered three further blows before closing on 105 for four, still 86 adrift. Sam Billings was undefeated on 39 and will be retired not out as he is now on England Lions duty and will take no further part in the game. His place will be taken by Joe Weatherley.

Resuming from their overnight position of 135 for three, the home side flew out of the blocks when play began at 2pm, with six boundaries coming within the space of 18 deliveries.

Hales brought up his first championship 50 of the season from 104 balls as the partnership stretched into three figures.

Shortly after bringing up his hundred Mullaney launched Will Gidman back over his head for the first six of the match.

The pink ball was then clubbed to all parts as Notts went through the gears and the introduction of Joe Denly’s spin seemed to tempt Hales even more. He launched his fourth delivery into the stand for six but then attempted a repeat and holed out to Sean Dickson.

Kent didn’t help their cause, with sub fielder James Tredwell spilling two chances at slip to reprieve Riki Wessels on 11 and Mullaney, just before he was eventually dismissed.

As Notts pushed to keep the game moving forward they lost their remaining wickets in quick order as Gidman removed Wessels and Luke Fletcher, with Coles finishing with three for 99, as James Pattinson played on.

Ball made 19 from 19 balls before top-edging to short third man and Harry Gurney was run out without scoring, leaving Chris Read undefeated on 20.

Daniel Bell-Drummond made an unbeaten 84 in the first innings but had only added six in the second before being bowled by Ball, who was then escorted from the field by the physio after stretching and flexing his leg.

Denly, Dickson and Sam Northeast all completed miserable matches with the bat by falling cheaply for a second time, with Gurney picking up two of the wickets and Fletcher the other.