Hampshire 304 for 6 (Lumb 77*, Lamb 20*) trail Sussex 332 (Goodwin 121, Bond 7-66) by 28 runs
Hampshire's batsmen grafted their way to within touching distance of Sussex's 332 to close on 304 for 6 on the second day at The Rose Bowl. It may not have wowed the spectators as much as Shane Bond's blistering burst did yesterday evening, but the day provided enough entertainment to warm the cockles of a small and hardy Southampton crowd.
Michael Lumb remained unbeaten on 77 at stumps, though was dropped on 55 by Michael Yardy at first slip shortly before the close - one of a number of chances Sussex let through. It was a day for gloves and rugs in The Rose Bowl's acutely exposed stands, certainly not one for holding a screaming slip catch or desperate pluck at short-leg.
James Tomlinson, the nightwatchman, frustrated Sussex for nearly an hour and showed mostly impressive judgement, even clumping a stray half volley from Robin Martin-Jenkins for four down the ground. With him out of the way, Sussex could concentrate on making headway into the top-order and Chris Adams, the captain, turned to his banker, Mushtaq Ahmed.
It took him just four overs to pick up his first of what will doubtless be another bounty haul of wickets, trapping Michael Brown in his crease for 20. Hampshire were stuttering at 61 for 3, but Mushtaq struggled to contain Hampshire, bowling into bitterly cold northerly gusts which persisted all day, and Sussex were made to toil with James Adams and John Crawley putting on the day's most assured stand of 92. In what is his 18th season, Crawley remains a batting enigma, albeit one of county cricket's most attractive enigmas. Against the medium-pace of Martin-Jenkins and Chris Liddle he was circumspect, even nervous. Mushtaq, though - who flummoxes almost every other Englishman - was stroked through extra cover three times with languid ease.
Adams, on the other hand, relied on tucks to the leg-side and nudgety flicks off the spinner. After lunch, Martin-Jenkins found enough movement to take Crawley's edge, the nick flying low to Adams' right at second slip who couldn't cling on. However, the very next ball Adams was trapped in front by a lowly grubber for a 121-ball 50 and Sussex had the breakthrough.
Crawley followed in the next over, nibbling at Ragheb Aga's awayswinger to hand him his maiden Championship wicket, and leaving Hampshire struggling on 155 for 5. Nic Pothas joined Lumb and attacked immediately, not always convincingly but his aggression shifted the balance and prompted Lumb into doing the same. It worked, too. Luke Wright, who again bowled swiftly - benefiting from the prevailing northerly from the nursery end - lacked control, offering boundary balls to both left and right hander.
Lumb, who reached a slick fifty from 80 balls 30 minutes before the close, lost Pothas to Aga but was assisted to stumps by Greg Lamb as Hampshire trailed by a slender 28. As they shuffled to find warmth, the PA thanked the spectators for "braving the considerable breeze." Worse, wetter weather is forecast tomorrow and Saturday, potentially curtailing what has bubbled into an intriguing contest.
Will Luke is a staff writer at Cricinfo