Monty Panesar was delighted to be back as he claimed two wickets in his first appearance for Northants for seven years.
And Panesar said: “I’ve really enjoyed my first day back. It was nice to get a good workload in.
“I was nervy first thing but I got some rhythm going.”
Kent ended the day on 300 for seven as Joe Denly’s unbeaten 126 put them in a good position at the County Ground.
But Panesar, along with Muhammad Azharullah and Rory Kleinveldt helped Northants fight back.
Sam Northeast’s wicket was the first of several fairly tame dismissals that saw Kent fail to take full advantage of their strong position.
At 202 for two they were in control of the day but after Northeast departed, no other partnership breached 30.
Sean Dickson tried to lift Rob Keogh, who was making his seasonal return, down the ground, only for Alex Wakely to leap to his right from mid-off and claim a stunning one-handed catch.
The celebration was surely learned from Shahid Afridi in his time at Wanatge Road last season.
Darren Stevens fell in the first over of the second new ball, clipping Kleinveldt straight to square leg.
Adam Rouse fell in similar fashion looking to clip Kleinveldt through the leg side, only to get a looping leading edge to cover giving Wakely a much easier catch.
Northants should have been in a much better position earlier in the day.
Panesar’s miss of Denly was the second of the three morning chances to go down.
Richard Levi twice spilled Daniel Bell-Drummond in the slips, first on nine and then on 26.
But Bell-Drummond couldn’t take full advantage as Northants finally did hold a catch after lunch with Kleinveldt taking Bell-Drummond for 47 at first slip.
But it followed a stand of 85 for the second wicket as Kent made a solid start, only for Panesar to play his part in turning the tide slightly.