Sussex hold nerve in cliffhanger
Sussex 194 and 309 for 8 (Wells 103, Brathwaite 5-58) beat Durham 292 (Muchall 74, Panesar 4-88) and 210 (Blackwell 51, Naved-ul-Hasan 4-43) by two wickets
Sussex's 20-year-old left-hander Luke Wells rode his luck to complete his maiden century before his team suffered some late jitters on the way to a thrilling two-wicket win against Durham at Chester-le-Street.
A fifth-wicket stand of 128 between Wells and Ben Brown had taken Sussex to within 32 of victory. But they then lost four wickets for 17 runs, all to Ruel Brathwaite, Durham's England-qualified West Indian paceman, who finished with 5 for 58.
Brathwaite almost had a sixth with 15 runs still needed, when Amjad Khan edged him low to third slip's right, where Scott Borthwick's dive could only parry the ball for four. Wells, dropped before he had added to his overnight 74, was constantly troubled by Mitch Claydon but reached 103 before he was sixth out with 21 needed.
Wells edged or sliced the Australian paceman for three fours through the slip cordon but remained totally unruffled before finally driving him through extra cover for his 17th four to complete his century off 241 balls.
Sussex needed 72 to complete the turnaround when they resumed on 237 for 4 and 22-year-old Brown, out first ball in the first innings, was the dominant partner this morning.
He played some fine shots to reach 61 before edging an attempted pull off Brathwaite to wicketkeeper Michael Richardson.
Brathwaite took the next wickets either side of firing a ball well down the leg side for four wides. Wells was squared up by a ball which pitched on leg stump and left him to take the shoulder of the bat on the way to point. Then Rana Naved-ul-Hasan danced down the pitch and went for a big drive, only to edge to Richardson.
James Anyon survived an impassioned lbw appeal two balls later and something similar off the next delivery brought a raised finger. But Khan's edge proved to be the final scare as Sussex jubilantly completed a win which had looked unlikely when they trailed by 98 on first innings.
They also looked doomed when Durham began the third day 265 runs in front with five wickets standing. When those five wickets went down for 44 they lost Richardson to the first ball of the day.
But when they had the chance to take a wicket in the first over this morning substitute fielder Gareth Breese was unable to hang on when diving to his right at second slip. He was on for Michael Di Venuto, who had also been off the field yesterday following a back spasm.
Wells was the beneficiary of the dropped catch as Claydon troubled him with balls leaving him from an off stump line, as he had in the first innings. He continued to ride his luck and it was his century which proved decisive in the match as Sussex got home to win.