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Sussex 94 for 5 (Pattinson 3-27) trail Nottinghamshire 240 (Mullaney 70, Slater 55, Robinson 4-44) by 146 runs
England fast bowler Ollie Robinson took four wickets on his return to competitive action as Sussex bowled out Division Two leaders Nottinghamshire for 240. In reply, however, they sunk to 49 for five before closing on 94 for five on an eventful opening day of their latest LV= Insurance County Championship match.
Robinson, whose problems in recent months have included a bout of Covid, a tooth infection and food poisoning in addition to a persistent back injury, dismissed the first four names on the Nottinghamshire scorecard to finish with four for 44 from 16 overs in his first appearance since May.
He produced two particularly high-quality deliveries to bowl openers Haseeb Hameed and Ben Slater, albeit 89 runs apart, the latter making 55 as one of two Nottinghamshire players to post half-centuries in an otherwise largely miserable-looking scorecard in which skipper Steven Mullaney's 70 was vital in giving the innings some substance.
James Pattinson added a useful 39 batting at nine before taking three wickets in his principal role as spearhead of the Nottinghamshire attack. Much responsibility will rest with Cheteshwar Pujara, captaining the side here, to build on his 34 not out if Sussex are to claim any advantage tomorrow, although the Indian Test star needed checking over late in the day after being struck on the helmet by a ball from Dane Paterson.
"I had an injection and it took about 10 days to feel fully settled. I started my rehab slowly with a bit of gym work but two and a half weeks in I started bowling and could tell straight away it felt better," Robinson said.
"I would have liked to have bowled in a Second XI game but the fixtures just didn't allow that, but last week I bowled 30 overs, the week before 24 and the week before that 18. So I was able to come into this match feeling I could give 100 percent. I felt a bit rusty as I suppose after a few months it is going to be, but the ball came out OK.
"I've had a few conversations with the England coaches and said that I wanted to bowl as many overs as were needed by the team, with no restrictions, and they have allowed me to play this game to 100 percent. I'm hoping to play in a Lions game early next month after which the South Africa series comes up pretty quickly, so I'm hoping that with a couple of good games I can be back in the mix."
After Sussex won the toss and made the home side bat first on a wicket with a good covering of grass, Robinson quickly put Nottinghamshire on the back foot, dismissing Hameed with his 12th delivery.
Hameed fell four short of a maiden 200 against Derbyshire last week but went for just five this time, offering no shot to a ball that came back a long way to clip his off stump.
Slater put early runs on the board as a fast outfield added value to any attacking shot, particularly with a short boundary on the Bridgford Road side.
But he lost partners in Robinson's fourth and fifth overs as Ben Duckett clipped one straight to backward square leg and Joe Clarke nibbled outside off stump to be caught behind at 41 for 3.
Nottinghamshire went to lunch at 87 for 4 after Lyndon James was caught at second slip off seamer Ari Karvelas for 7, having been dropped by the same fielder on the same score in the previous Karvelas over.
Back after lunch, Robinson struck another blow by removing Slater for 55 with the ball of the day, pitching on middle and hitting the top of off.
Tom Moores flailed at a wide loosener from 20-year-old left-armer Sean Hunt to be caught behind and Liam Patterson-White nicked a loose drive to second slip off Karvelas as Nottinghamshire slipped to 152 for 7.
Mullaney was dropped at second slip on 26 and by the keeper on 53 but made the most of his opportunities otherwise, hitting eight fours and two sixes, helping Pattinson add 65 for the eighth wicket.
After Pattinson nicked one behind, the last two wickets fell quickly as left-armer Brad Currie, who took 6 for 93 on his debut at Lord's last week, picked up the final three, including Mullaney who was perhaps unlucky to be given leg before to the left-armer coming round the wicket, before Paterson was caught behind off an inside edge.
Nottinghamshire missed out on a second batting bonus point but in the context of the match their 240 began to look a decent effort as Sussex stumbled to 49 for 5.
Pattinson pinned Tom Clark leg-before, Paterson produced a beauty to beat Fynn Hudson-Prentice's defensive push on his return from a stress fracture and then Pattinson took two in five balls, ending Ali Orr's good start with a ball to match Paterson's and squaring up Oli Carter for another lbw.
Paterson then drew an edge to second slip from James Coles to leave Sussex with half their wickets gone and still 191 behind, but Pujara and Archie Lenham survived the last 18 overs to cut that deficit to 146.
Dane Paterson, James Pattinson make short work of Sussex to fire Notts towards title
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