Cricket: Middlesex see off Sussex to join promotion picture
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Middlesex broke into the race for promotion from the Specsavers County Championship second division with their fourth victory in five matches at Lord’s on Friday.
The fact that the win was achieved against rivals Sussex, who themselves were going for five victories on the spin for the first time since 2006, the year of their second championship success, will have given Dawid Malan’s side even greater satisfaction.
Sussex, set 231 to victory, were optimistic about their chances but a lively bowling display earned Middlesex victory before tea on the third day as the visitors were bowled out for 175 in 44.5 overs.
Middlesex had resumed on 210-5 – 208 ahead – and lost their remaining five wickets for just 22 runs in 10.4 overs and 50 minutes. At that stage all the momentum was with Sussex.
At the start of play Sussex were looking forward to the new ball, which was due five overs into the morning session. But they made a double breakthrough before that.
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Malan had added just a single to his overnight 69 when he edged Ollie Robinson, to keeper Ben Brown in the second over.
And in the next over James Fuller edged Jofra Archer into the safe hands of Chris Jordan at slip for a duck.
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Sussex took the new ball and claimed the remaining three wickets in the space of 12 deliveries.
James Harris was lbw to Archer for 26, Ethan Bamber was immediately bowled by Robinson and Archer wrapped up the innings with this fifth wicket when he had Steven Finn, pulling, caught at short midwicket by Tom Haines.
Sussex suffered an early blow in their chase when Luke Wells lost his off stump to a full length delivery from Bamber for three.
But Phil Salt and Haines had put their side in a good position when, just before lunch, Salt was caught behind off a fine delivery from Fuller.
Sussex needed a couple of decent partnerships to get their target under control but their young batting side struggled against a vigorous Middlesex pace attack.
Middlesex appeared to miss an important catch when Harry Finch, on six, was dropped by Ollie Rayner at second slip – something of a collector’s item from one of the safest pairs of hands in county cricket.
Middlesex, however, bounced back to take two wickets in three balls as Fuller had Haines caught in the gully and then Finn pitched one up to bowl Luke Wright for a duck, giving the former Sussex captain a pair in the match.
Finch, unable to make the most of his reprieve, was lbw to Harris for 20 but Sussex still had a chance while their captain and most dependable batsman, Brown, was at the wicket.
Once he was sixth out, caught behind at 111, it looked all over for them and it was, despite a stubborn last-wicket stand between David Wiese and Danny Briggs.
Jordan fell to a fine catch behind the wicket, Archer was bowled by a wicked delivery from Bamber, Robinson was run out by Malan and finally Briggs was caught behind.