Foster hogs the crease for Essex
Essex captain James Foster hogged the crease on day two of LV= County Championship Division Two clash with Kent.
Foster gave his side an invaluable 47-run first innings lead at Canterbury.
In hot and humid conditions, Foster batted for four and three quarter hours for his 76 to rescue his side from the depths of 23 for four to a respectable position of 273 all out just after 6pm.
Batting again with a first innings deficit of 47, Kent lost their captain Rob Key in controversial circumstances only 24 balls into the reply.
Shaping to glance against Graham Napier, Key was adjudged to have edged a catch through to keeper Foster and, after a moment of dissent, trudged off clearly unhappy over the decision of umpire Jeremy Lloyds.
The Kent skipper may find himself in disciplinary trouble following the reaction.
To make matters worse for Kent and Key, nightwatchman Adam Riley was soon skittled by Maurice Chambers and, in the final over of the day, opening bat Sam Northeast was trapped on the back foot by a Harbhajan Singh flipper and went for three.
The hosts went in at nine for three and are now deep in trouble, trailing by 38 runs with only seven wickets in hand gong into the third day of four.
It was a complete turnaround in fortunes for Kent who had started the day in high spirits after taking a glut of Essex wickets in the opening hour.
In overcast conditions the home attack made the new ball swing and sing to their tune and the Essex top order duly struggled.
Jaik Mickleburgh pushed half-forward to a Charlie Shreck leg-cutter to edge to the keeper, Owais Shah leg-before to a nip-back ball from Matt Coles and Tom Westley caught low at slip off the same bowler.
When Shreck squared up Mark Pettini with an away swinger that clipped the top of off stump to make it 22 for three, Kent were happy, even more so when Ryan ten Doeschate perished to a Darren Stevens away swinger to make it 82 for five at lunch.
That was the cue for Foster's rearguard action and the former England right-hander toughed it out for 226 balls and hit only five fours for his part in a sixth-wicket stand of 126 in 33.2 overs with Adam Wheater.
In terms of entertainment, Wheater played a far more positive role, hitting 12 boundaries in his eye-catching 82.
His stay ended after 109 balls when he aimed to reverse sweep Adam Riley to go leg before, then when Foster went to the new ball Kent ran through the tail by taking four wickets for 20 in 29 balls with Shreck the pick with figures of five for 51.
That was the cue for Kent to reduce the arrears but they had not reckoned with Essex's bowlers.