A superb maiden double-hundred from Sean Dickson rescued Kent after Shiv Thakor had given another impressive display of his potential on the third day of the Division Two match against Derbyshire at Derby.
Dickson was undefeated on 207, which included 24 fours and two sixes, from 362 balls out of Kent’s 412 when Thakor knocked back Mitch Claydon’s middle stump to claim his first five wicket haul to go with his first innings century.
The 24-year-old became the first Kent player since 2011 to carry his bat through an innings and was given excellent support by Matt Coles who scored 41 out of an eighth wicket stand of 97 in 20 overs.
Kent closed 80 behind and the day ended dramatically with Billy Godleman forced to retire hurt before Coles struck twice and Tredwell once to reduce Derbyshire to 9 for 3 in six overs.
Dickson had a new batting partner before a ball was bowled after Joe Denly returned home to be with his wife Stacey who later gave birth to their first child.
That further weakened a batting line-up that was without the injured Tom Latham and Darren Stevens and Kent were soon in trouble with Thakor striking twice in four overs.
Sam Northeast was caught behind down the legside for 12 and when Alex Blake edged low to slip, Kent had slipped to 113 for 3 and, with Denly absent, were effectively four down.
But Dickson was playing with impressive maturity for a 24-year-old and with Adam Ball, batted through the rest of the morning only for Kent to suffer another mini crisis after lunch.
Ball tried to drive Ben Cotton without moving his feet and edged to Tom Poynton before the fast bowler clipped the top of Adam Rouse’s off-stump.
Derbyshire could have increased the pressure but Calum Haggett was dropped at second slip on one and although he struggled to time the ball, stayed with Dickson for 16 overs before he played round one from Thakor.
The next ball pinned Tredwell in front and left Kent in danger of being asked to follow on but Coles helped Dickson take the momentum away from Derbyshire.
A square drive brought Dickson his 17th four and his 150 which came off 304 balls and although he was lucky when he played a ball onto the stumps without dislodging the bails, he had certainly earned his good fortune.
With the threat of the follow-on averted, Coles opened his shoulders to dispatch Chesney Hughes for six and Dickson drove Wayne Madsen over long on before passing his previous career-best of 173.
Tom Taylor finally broke the stand when he defeated Coles’s big swing to take his first wicket of the season but Mitch Claydon made sure Dickson joined the double centurion club.
Dickson turned the 350th ball he faced to fine leg for two before Thakor deservedly ended the innings but Kent’s recovery continued as Chesney Hughes, Tom Taylor and Hamish Rutherford all went cheaply.
Thakor said: “I’m very pleased on a personal level but I probably got everyone else’s rewards today. I thought the other boys bowled brilliantly without the rewards they deserved and at the end of the day it’s wickets as a bowling unit that we look for and there will be other days when someone else will get the wickets.
“We are all in it together every day we are out there so it’s about the hard work from the other guys. I think everyone around the country has seen how tough wickets are to come by this season so you have to celebrate every single one.
“I was delighted when Ben (Cotton) and Tommy (Taylor) got theirs and Tony (Palladino) was unfortunate not to get one, he’s the senior bowler in our attack and leads us and he bowled really well and created pressure so it could have been anyone of us with the five wickets.
“I think the pitch is deteriorating, and we are 90 for 3 on it which is a lot more promising because it’s going to be tough to bat on and you wouldn’t want to be batting last on it so I think all three results are possible at the moment.
“That’s the exciting prospect going into the last day of a game which you don’t see that often anymore. We have seven wickets in hand so we’ve got to get every single run we can because we know how tough it is.”