By Jack Bradshaw
LV= County Championship Division One
Sussex 290 & 459-9 dec. drew with Lancashire 590
Sussex salvaged a draw against Lancashire in their first home County Championship fixture of 2011, last night [Fri 29].
Lancs had set an impressive target of 590 on the opening day, which Sussex struggled to chase down.
Having been forced to follow-on, they were indebted to an unbeaten century by Naved Arif Gondal to secure the result.
Sussex resumed the final day on 147-0 in their second innings, still 153 runs behind Lancashire’s first innings total.
The match looked over as a contest after the morning session, when the hosts lost regular wickets to slip to 232-5.
With just the tail-enders left, Lancashire looked set for a easy run-chase to seal the victory. But Arif’s maiden first-class hundred denied the league leaders a third-straight win of the new season.
The Pakistani seamer shared a last wicket stand of 90 with Monty Panesar to secure the draw, after Ed Joyce had earlier hit a stylish 140.
Opener Joyce batted for 98 overs but, after he became the eighth wicket to fall on the stroke of tea, Sussex led by only 66.
English-qualified Arif then proceeded to hit eight fours and four sixes to bring up his hundred from 131 deliveries, leaving the players to shake hands with 10 overs remaining.
Lancashire were left frustrated, after a dominant bowling display earlier in the day handed them the initiative.
Chris Nash fell to Glen Chapple in the sixth over of the final day, after a 169-run opening stand with Joyce.
He was quickly followed by Luke Wells who edged to slip for a third-ball duck, and first-innings centurion Murray Goodwin who was stumped off Gary Keedy’s bowling.
Ben Brown was run out without scoring by Stephen Moore and Sussex’s final recognised batsman, Andrew Hodd, joined him in the pavilion after adding just 16, as the host’s hopes of saving the match quickly diminished.
They were helped by an ankle injury to Chapple and Saj Mahmood’s controversial removal from the bowling after he delivered two beamers in the innings.
With a clearly-tired Keedy left to lead the attack, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan peppered the commentary box with sixes to take Sussex into a slim-lead, before Arif secured the draw and a total of seven points.
Home fans were also buoyed by the sight of club captain Michael Yardy’s in kit at Hove yesterday, as head coach Mark Robinson suggested that the England man is “getting close to a comeback” following his recent battles with depression.
Sussex’s next outing in the County Championship sees them travel to Hampshire next week following back to back Clydesdale Bank 40 matches.