Worcestershire 264 and 251-8
Azhar Ali demonstrated his class and vast experience to help Worcestershire to secure a draw from the LV= Insurance County Championship encounter with Sussex at New Road despite another stunning performance from England pace bowler Ollie Robinson.
Robinson followed up his first innings performance of 7-59 with another super-human effort which brought him 7-57 and his career best match figures of 45.4-10-116-14 before leaving the field with what looked like cramp. He watched the finale from the boundary edge.
But Azhar batted throughout the day to complete a superb century and shepherd Worcestershire to safety as they overcame a first innings deficit of 109.
The 38-year-old had played a major role with a second innings 62 in the away win over Derbyshire and this was another invaluable knock in different circumstances.
Azhar, who retired from international cricket this winter after playing 97 Tests for Pakistan, did more than anything to combat the constant threat posed by Robinson in an intriguing contest.
Worcestershire’s number three received excellent support from Adam Hose with his second excellent knock of the game.
Worcestershire resumed on 34-1 – still 75 in arrears – after the complete wash-out of the third day.
Robinson had taken seven wickets in the first innings and the England pace bowler again posed the biggest threat.
He broke through with his seventh delivery of the day when Ed Pollock pushed forward to a delivery which nipped away from him and Steve Smith held on to a comfortable chance at second slip.
New batter Jack Haynes was greeted with six slips when facing Robinson who continued to ask questions of all the batters.
Azhar Ali on nine survived a difficult low chance at short leg off Robinson but it was not long before the 29-year-old claimed his third scalp of the innings.
Haynes did not use his feet when driving at a widish delivery and edged through to keeper Oli Carter.
It was a tenth wicket of the game for Robinson who was rested after a morning spell of 7-3-18-2.
New batter Adam Hose, who had scored his maiden fifty for the club in the first innings, was quickly into his stride with a cover drive and on drives for four at Sean Hunt’s expense.
Azhar used all his knowledge and experience to combat the Sussex attack and he and Hose gradually upped the tempo and posted a half-century stand in 15 overs. In a challenging situation, Azhar faced 104 balls of the 29 overs during the morning session.
Robinson swapped to the New Road End for the first time in the game for his immediate post-lunch spell.
Azhar completed an excellent 151 ball fifty when he cover-drove Fynn Hudson-Prentice for his fifth boundary.
But Robinson picked up his fourth wicket of the innings when switching back to the Diglis End when Hose, on 41, was lbw to a delivery angled back in.
It ended a partnership of 88 in 28 overs with Azhar and at that juncture Worcestershire led by just 33 with still 57 overs remaining.
Club captain Brett D’Oliveira looked in good nick, flicking Henry Crocombe off his legs for four and cutting him for another boundary.
But Hudson-Prentice returned to have him caught behind at effectively 70-5.
The new ball was nine overs away when the players came out after tea and in an ideal world Robinson would have been rested until that juncture.
But Sussex needed wickets and he was straight back into the attack and completed his five-for when Gareth Roderick edged a lifter to second slip.
There was more joy for Robinson as Matthew Waite felt for a ball outside the off stump and Tom Alsop at first slip did the rest.
Robinson had a one-over break when the new ball was taken and the first delivery of his next spell bowled Joe Leach but Azhar had the final say.