Middlesex v Sussex, County Championship, Lord's, 2nd day August 17, 2005

Pakistan duo blow away hapless Middlesex

Sussex 522 for 9 dec beat Middlesex 128 (Martin-Jenkins 4-31) and 162 (Smith 69, Mushtaq Ahmed 6-44, Naved-ul-Hasan 4-54) by an innings and 232 runs
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Rana Naved-ul-Hasan in full flow from the Nursery End © Cricinfo
Five days ago Middlesex appeared to be on the verge of a win over Nottinghamshire which would have lifted them to second in the County Championship. After yesterday's rout by Sussex, they are staring at the very real possibility of relegation. Sussex, meanwhile, jumped from fifth in the table to overtake Nottinghamshire at the top courtesy of this two-day win.

In 88 overs, Middlesex were bowled out twice by a Sussex side which concentrated on the basics of line and length while the batsmen showed little application and even less stomach for a fight. The final margin - an innings and 232 runs - did not flatter Sussex, nor did it reflect unfairly on Middlesex.

The Pakistan duo of Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and Mushtaq Ahmed ripped through a Middlesex side which offered even less resistance than Zimbabwe at their worst. Bowling with venom from the Nursery End, Naved-ul-Hasan wobbled Middlesex's top order first time round, and then blew away the middle order when they followed on with four wickets in six balls. At the other end, the wily Mushtaq, who took ten wickets in this fixture last summer, proved a total mystery to the batsmen, finishing with match figures of 9 for 68. Robin Martin-Jenkins briefly got in on the act, taking the last four first-innings wickets in 18 balls after lunch, again through concentrating on bowling straight.

Richard Montgomerie narrowly fails to catch Chris Peploe © Cricinfo
If Middlesex's first innings was poor - they followed on 394 runs in arrears after being bowled out in a little under three hours - their second was farcical. Ed Smith and Ben Hutton took them to 45 for 0 when Hutton was caught at slip by Chris Adams off Mushtaq. Within 32 balls Middlesex were 48 for 7, with the scorecard showing six consecutive ducks. Owais Shah and Ed Joyce, two players who harbour ambitions of an England call-up, fell to Mushtaq within four balls, Shah leg-before and Joyce slashing to point two balls later.

Had Carl Hopkinson in the gully held a low chance from Smith, on 25 at the time, then Middlesex would have been 48 for 8. As it was, Smith led a largely irrelevant rearguard with Chris Peploe, the pair of them adding 97 for the eighth wicket, which ensured Middlesex narrowly avoided their heaviest defeat ever (they lost to Lancashire by an innings and 271 runs at Old Trafford in 1882). First time round, Peploe had briefly given the home support basking in glorious sunshine something to cheer when he hammered Martin-Jenkins for 14 off three balls, falling to a good catch by Mushtaq at long-on going for a fourth successive big hit.

Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo