Sussex v Middlesex, Hove, 2nd day May 6, 2010

Middlesex on course for first win

Sussex 217 and 113 for 4 v Middlesex 296

Middlesex are on course for their first win of the County Championship season after their bowlers put them in a strong position against Sussex at Hove. Second Division leaders Sussex conceded a first innings deficit of 79 runs against a Middlesex team who have lost all four of their previous games this season.

They then lost three wickets clearing those arrears and finished the second day on 113 for 4, a lead of 34, with Matt Prior, who scored an undefeated 123 in the first innings, again holding the fort on 48 not out.

Openers Chris Nash and Michael Thornely launched Sussex's second innings with a flurry of attacking shots and had 33 on the board in the fifth over when Thornely became the first of two wickets in successive overs for Tim Murtagh, adjudged leg before as he tried to work the ball backward of square.

Murtagh struck again when the out-of-form Joe Gatting pushed forward to an away-swinger and was caught at slip for a duck. Murray Goodwin also fell without scoring, bowled by Iain O'Brien as he failed to deal with some late in-swing.

Prior and Nash led a recovery of sorts with a stand of 41 but Nash was leg-before to Pedro Collins for 42, leaving Sussex with work to do if they are to improve their lead at the top of the table.

Earlier, former West Indies fast bowler Corey Collymore had taken 5 for 67 - his best figures for Sussex in his third season with the county - as Middlesex were dismissed for 296 in their first innings.

The bottom of the table visitors were on course to build a substantial lead when Neil Dexter and John Simpson put on 108 in 35 overs for the fourth wicket, after Owais Shah had lost his off stump when he shouldered arms to Collymore in the eighth over of the day.

Dexter looked in superb touch on a pitch which had flattened out after 13 wickets had fallen on the first day. He struck 15 boundaries, most of them through mid off and extra cover, and Middlesex were within 21 runs of taking the lead when Robin Martin-Jenkins dragged Sussex back into the game with two wickets in three overs.

Dexter was betrayed by a lack of footwork as he fell leg before for 80 and Simpson was well taken by wicketkeeper Prior for 45. While the seamers operated in rotation from one end Monty Panesar bowled with outstanding control until Gareth Berg went on the attack and spoiled his figures by hitting 22 off one over, including three sixes.

Panesar, who had earlier trapped Tom Smith lbw, had his revenge in the next over when Berg missed a sweep, having made 60 off 61 balls with six fours and those three sixes. Collymore returned to mop up the tail by picking up O'Brien and fellow Bajan Pedro Collins in successive overs.