Sussex v Hampshire, Hove, 2nd day July 12, 2011

Rayner gives Sussex slim advantage

Hampshire 206 and 61 for 2 v Sussex 240

Ollie Rayner's carefully measured half-century gave Sussex a small but important first-innings advantage over Hampshire in a low-scoring County Championship match on an indifferent pitch at Hove.

When Rayner came to the wicket Sussex were 109 for 5 and struggling to match Hampshire's 206, but he hit a controlled 62 not out from 118 balls, with eight fours, to help his side reach 240. Hampshire were 61 for 2 in their second innings to lead by 27 at the close.

Rayner, 25, has been a valuable member of the Sussex squad since the club brought him back from Middlesex, where he had been on loan, in June. Last month he took 5 for 18 in a Twenty20 game against Somerset and also struck 58 against Warwickshire at Arundel in Sussex's last Championship fixture. Even while wickets were falling he made no attempt to force the pace against a tiring attack, though he might have been run out by Dominic Cork when he had 20.

Sussex had resumed on 27 for 2 and looked capable of building a solid lead when Murray Goodwin and Luke Wells carried the total to 68 before Goodwin, back on his stumps, fell lbw to slow left-armer Danny Briggs. Matt Prior had scored 5 when he fended a lifting delivery from Cork to Neil McKenzie at first slip and Wells was stumped for 49 when he jumped down the wicket to attack Briggs.

Rayner joined Andrew Hodd, but in the 57th over Hodd was the sixth man out at 142, lbw as he played forward to Briggs. Rana Naved-ul-Hasan decided to attack the Hampshire youngster and lifted him over the hospitality tents for a huge six but then Briggs had him lbw, although the batsman was well forward.

That made it 166 for 7 and it was soon 179 for 8 when Monty Panesar, batting high at nine, swiped straight to Mike Carberry at wide mid-on for three. Rayner, who used his long reach to drive impressively along the ground, was now joined by James Anyon and Sussex moved past Hampshire's score when Anyon hit Briggs through the covers for four.

Hampshire took the new ball and immediately Kabir Ali had Anyon lbw with a yorker, before Amjad Khan became yet another lbw victim, this time to Imran Tahir. Sussex led by 34 runs after the first innings while Briggs, who bowled a spell of 36 overs, finished with 4 for 85. At just 20, Briggs already has 98 first-class wickets.

Hampshire lost both openers before stumps, either side of a short rain interruption. Jimmy Adams was only half forward and fell lbw to Amjad Khan and Liam Dawson was caught behind off the fiery Anyon, as the visitors closed with a narrow lead going into the third day.