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    Northants cling to draw as Sussex stifled by poor light
Northants cling to draw as Sussex stifled by poor light
Sussex couldn't force a victory on the final day. Source: Getty Images

Northants cling to draw as Sussex stifled by poor light

Poor light and determined resistance from Lewis McManus thwarted Sussex's bid for an unlikely victory over Northamptonshire on a thrilling final day at Hove.

McManus batted for an hour as four partners came and went and Northants staggered to 170 for 9 before umpires Paul Baldwin and Surendiran Shanmugam decided it was too gloomy even for spin. Northants was 63 for one.

The loss of more than 100 overs ultimately proved decisive, but Sussex will have taken much encouragement from having done most of the running, especially over the last two days. They took 15 for the loss to Northants' 13.

Sussex had taken a first-innings lead of 107. They then reduced Northants to 57 for 4. Skipper Luke Procter (41) calmed the nerves before left-arm spinner James Coles revived Sussex's hopes with three of the four wickets that fell in 7.1 overs after tea, leaving them on 152 for 8.

McManus and Ben Sanderson batted for eight overs before the light improved enough for Sussex skipper John Simpson to recall quick Jayden Seales and Ollie Robinson for two overs each.

In a fitting way to celebrate his 400th first-class wicket, Robinson responded with an unplayable yorker to uproot Sanderson's middle stump. Spinners Coles and Jack Carson returned, but there was no improvement in the light and the players shook hands just after 6pm.

Sussex resumed their first innings on 478 for 9, having posted 127 for the maximum in their 20 overs. Fynn Hudson-Prentice and Danny Lamb extended their seventh-wicket stand to 99 from just 14.1 overs, Lamb adding 41 before Chris Tremain took an excellent low catch at midwicket off Sanderson.

Hudson-Prentice, who scored nine Championship fifties last season, again showed his mettle with 73 off 60 balls and it took a clever piece of bowling from Tremain to remove him when he held one back and Hudson-Prentice drove to long-on.

Even the normally frugal Sanderson had to suffer when Carson hit him for three sixes in a lively 61 off 53 balls. He was then bowled by left-arm spinner Zaib for the fourth wicket when he had another attempt on mid-wicket.

Robinson and Seales plundered 30 runs from ten balls before the declaration, leaving Northants with four overs before lunch, which they couldn't get through unscathed as Seales produced a lovely away swinger which Justin Broad edged to third slip.

Sussex continued to build with three wickets in ten overs after lunch. Emilio Gay (20) lost his stumps for Seales' sixth wicket of the match and Karun Nair edged to Robinson at third slip, Coles taking a superb catch low to his left.

George Bartlett drove offspinner Carson onto the roof of the South Stand, only to be run out two balls later, before a 73 stand between Procter and Rob Keogh steered Northants into calmer waters, at least for a while.

After tea, Coles added three more wickets to his three in the first innings. Zaib was well caught at slip trying to guide the ball to the third man. Keogh was lbw to a quicker ball for 55 and Michael Finan was caught at second slip on a drive. Carson was the catalyst for the collapse when he went round the wicket to have Procter's leg before he aimed for midwicket.

Robinson finished with 2 for 19 from ten overs in three spells, bowling at a good pace throughout. In only his second first-class match since July 2023, he will have been pleased to get through 32 overs.

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