Sussex in command by end of Day 2 at Leicester

Leicestershire 210 Sussex 386-6

A fine century from Tom Clark helped Sussex overcome a rare failure on the part of Cheteshwar Pujara and establish a dominant position in their LV Insurance County Championship fixture against Leicestershire at the Upton Steel County Ground.

It was Clark’s second century of what is proving to be a breakthrough season for the 21-year-old from Haywards Heath, his first having been made against Nottinghamshire in Sussex’s opening match of the season.

His tally put his county in with a strong chance of ending their run of 17 championship matches without a win.

Only five wickets fell during the day as the pitch flattened under almost unbroken sunshine but, with two spinners in the side, Sussex, who finished the day with a first innings lead of 176, will be hopeful that it starts to take a turn when they attempt to bowl a disheartened Leicestershire out for a second time.

The morning session saw Sussex captain Tom Haines pick up where he had left off the previous evening, moving swiftly from his overnight score of 22 to his fourth half-century of the season.

It was a 45-ball effort that included eight boundaries. But his attempt to hit a ninth, however, cutting at a delivery from Wiaan Mulder, succeeded only in chopping the ball into his stumps.

When Pujara went soon afterwards, raising his eyes to the heavens in understandable disbelief after being given out leg before to Ben Mike’s first ball of the day, a delivery which looked to be missing leg stump, Sussex were 96-3 and their young batting line-up appeared exposed.

But Clark, in company with Oli Carter, dug in, eschewing risk in building a partnership that had reached 41 at lunch.

Both were fortunate once: Clark, having called for a run after hitting the ball close to Mike at midwicket when on 31, would have been several yards short of his ground if Mike’s throw had hit, while Carter flashed hard at another Mike delivery when on just 5 and Rishi Patel could not hold a very hard high chance to his right at second slip.

Carter looked a different player after the interval and his more positive approach, which included lofting left-arm spinner Callum Parkinson for a straight six, paid dividends as he went to his 50 off 111 deliveries.

Clark continued to accumulate sensibly as the partnership moved to 140 before Carter, having hit a second maximum, unaccountably played down the wrong line at the off-spin of Colin Ackermann and was bowled.

Shortly afterwards Clark reached his century with a pull to the boundary off Beuran Hendricks, his 11th boundary in 182 balls.

He received further good support, first from Delray Rawlins in a partnership of 60 for the fifth wicket before Rawlins was brilliantly caught by Patel, diving to his left to take a high chance at second slip off the bowling of Chris Wright.

Then it was 17-year-old Archie Lenham until Clark tried to hit Parkinson over the legside and Mike, standing at short mid-on, stuck out his right hand to take another excellent catch.

Clark had hit 18 fours and faced 262 balls for his 138.

Lenham, however, showed impressive maturity in continuing to build the lead, hitting South Africa international Mulder for three boundaries in an over as he closed on what would be a maiden first-class half-century.

Tom Clark said: “Obviously pleased to get a career best, but even more so for the team to have built up a very good lead. I was frustrated to have got out just after having reached a hundred against Notts, so it was good to go on here to a bigger score.

“With losing Chet (Pujara), I knew it was even more important to go on and get a score. We built partnerships, never lost wickets in a cluster – and that was important.

“Our aim is to bat once and try to bowl them out again. We haven’t seen too much spin yet but it’s quite dry, so might be some turn to come, and with Ollie Robinson back, we could be in a good position.”

Leicestershire bowler Chris Wright said: “It’s definitely a good pitch. We tried hard all day and you couldn’t fault the effort. But fair play to them, they applied themselves really well, didn’t give away any cheap wickets and for a young batting side they did really well.

“We were relatively pleased at lunch having picked up what looked like key wickets in Tom Haines and Cheteshwar Pujara, but their middle order really applied themselves and put the runs on the board.

“We’re expecting it to turn a bit as the game goes on, so if we can get past them and build a lead, we could yet put them under a bit of pressure.”

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