Notts roar back through Shahzad
Sussex 290 for 6 (Wells 59, Joyce 59, Shahzad 3-57) trail Nottinghamshire 356 (Patel 157, Shahzad 56, Jordan 6-97) by 66 runs
To look at the Sussex scorecard will paint the picture of a top order of starts needlessly squandered but the truth could not be more different. For that, credit must go to Nottinghamshire's captain, Chris Read, who, on a Hove pitch that offered something for both sides, rotated his attack well enough to curtail the home batsmen as soon as it looked like they may take the game away.
His main weapon was Ajmal Shahzad, who started the day responsibly to bring up his first half-century in nearly two years and notch a fourth batting point for Nottinghamshire - something that seemed unlikely when Chris Jordan took his sixth wicket of the innings to send Luke Fletcher on his way.
An extrovert with the ball, Shahzad's batting is prim and proper. Dealing primarily in drives and pushes as he acted as Samit Patel's deputy on Friday evening, before taking over as the lead act and farming the strike in a responsible manner this morning. The late Graham Roope, who coached Shahzad at Woodhouse Grove School in Bradford, believed him to be as good with the bat as he was with the ball and he would have been buoyed by the application his former pupil displayed.
When Steve Magoffin tempted him to hook from in front of his nose, he controlled it brilliantly to get the ball in front of square and away for four to the midwicket boundary to reach 53 in 139 balls. Three runs later he was gone, flashing at wide ball from James Anyon, but he could be forgiven for having a go after playing his part in a rearguard resistance that saw the last four wickets put on 244 runs (more than twice as much as the first six).
Luke Wells and Chris Nash got the Sussex reply off to a great start with 57 runs in the remaining 13 overs before lunch, as Harry Gurney, Fletcher and Shahzad were either a touch too full or a smidge too wide. But they wrestled back control well and Shahzad, who was starting build up a good head of steam, found the breakthrough when he got a good length ball to rise up, take Nash's inside edge and remove the bail adjoining middle and leg stump.
Further pressure brought about the demise of Wells, whose innings typified Nottinghamshire's increasing control in the field, as he chipped Patel back to Fletcher at mid-on having looked at ease with proceedings.
Ed Joyce joined Michael Yardy at the crease - the latter looking in fine fettle as he took some runs off his bowl-a-like Patel - and the two left-handers began to push the score along nicely, until a bloody-minded Shahzad spell after tea broke their stand.
Thundering in down the slope from the Cromwell Road End, he fired one through the defence of Yardy that upended his off stump before letting out a hellacious roar that would have made a lion back down. Shahzad had a third three overs later when Rory Hamilton-Brown gave an extremely difficult chance low to the left of Alex Hales at first slip, who did incredibly well to get a hand to the ball, let alone hold on.
The biggest wicket of the day was arguably Joyce's, not least because he was accruing in a typically classy manner. When he could only greet Gurney's first ball of his evening spell with the shoulder of his bat - James Taylor running in from cover to take a dolly of a catch - Nottinghamshire would have fancied themselves to hustle out a couple more before stumps.
But some fine counterattacking from Ben Brown and Jordan put 41 more runs on the board in only 35 deliveries to leave things nicely balanced going into the second half of the game.