Sussex take control against Durham on Day 2 at Hove

Cheteshwar Pujara scored his third century in as many matches to give Sussex control on the second day of their LV= County Championship match against Durham at Hove.

It’s been a difficult start to the season for Sussex, whose inexperienced side has been weakened by injury and illness, with two of their opening three matches ended in defeat by ten wickets and an innings.

But Pujara, who missed his new club’s opening fixture of the season at home to Nottinghamshire, scored a sublime hundred on his delayed Hove debut. The whole ground rose to applaud him.

He was 128 not out, scored off 198 balls with 16 fours, when bad light brought play to an end with 13 overs still remaining. But by then Sussex were 362 for five, and leading by 139 runs.

It felt distinctly chilly under the sullen clouds but Pujara shone more brightly than the floodlights as Sussex enjoyed their second good day against Durham.

Pujara had already scored an unbeaten 201 against Derbyshire and 109 against Worcestershire but this was his best innings for the county as he dominated a partnership of 143 with Tom Clark – the pair had put on 121 against Worcestershire.

Clark was out immediately after reaching his half-century, brilliantly caught by the diving Matty Potts ad deep backward square-leg.

Sussex had stared the second day on 82 for one, still 141 in arrears. Durham were handicapped from the start by the absence of their leading fast bowler Chris Rushworth.

He failed overnight concussion protocols and was replaced in the side by Oliver Gibson. On a flat pitch, Rushworth was badly missed, though Ben Raine bowled impressively.

Sussex lost their first wicket of the day on 95, when Ali Orr was lbw to Potts. Nightwatchman Mason Crane – on a month’s loan from Hampshire but born in Shoreham – did his job by surviving for 60 deliveries before he was bowled by a fine delivery from Matt Salisbury.

That made it 108 for three, with the match very much in the balance. But that brought Pujara to the crease.

He was well supported, in the first instance, by Tom Alsop, another import from Hampshire. Alsop, given the pivotal No 3 spot, had made a disappointing start to his Sussex career but here he played soundly for a 129-ball 66 before he was lbw to Liam Trevaskis, a marginal decision with the ball looking a little high.

Alsop and Pujara added 99 for the fourth wicket. But it was when Pujara was joined by Clark that the Indian Test batsman’s innings really took off.

Durham took the new ball just before tea but, in the few overs before that, Pujara attacked the Durham spinners with relish, pulling with immense power and striking five fours in two overs.

Sussex captain Tom Haines said: “Puj was an absolute joy to watch today, both from the balcony and when you’re batting with him.

“His stats speak for themselves, with over 50 first-class hundreds. He’s an unbelievable player and a great guy to have in the dressing room.

“He’s so keen to speak to everyone. He’s the easiest guy to talk to. There’s no ego. He’s in the nets all the time. He’s the ultimate batting professional and a joy to have around. It’s been a good cricket wicket. Our focus now is to get as big a lead as possible.”

Durham coach James Franklin said: “We fell short on the first day, making a disappointing total on a good pitch. And we were without Chris Rushworth. He wasn’t feeling great and we decided to be very cautious with him.

“And then today Sussex batted beautifully, with Pujara, Alsop and Clark. Now we have to face up in the third innings because we’ll be under some scoreboard pressure. But it’s a great first-class wicket.”

Leave a Reply


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.