Adams' defiance keeps Sussex alive

Sussex 252 & 312 Hampshire 280 & 89-3

There was an intriguing contest within a contest in mid-morning, as Sussex's captain, Chris Adams, battled against his opposite number, Shane Warne, in yesterday's First Division Championship match.

Adams emerged on top as he mastered the Australian leg-spinner using first patience and then power as he asserted himself. Five boundaries, two in one over and three in the next, underlined who had the upper hand.

The Sussex man finished unbeaten on 79 after more than four hours at the crease, an innings that went a long way to setting up what promises to be an exciting climax to this match today.

It was comfortably Adams' best score of the season, but more importantly it carried on the good work begun by Ian Ward, who had lost Murray Goodwin when the day was just seven overs old, the Zimbabwean shouldering arms to a Billy Taylor ball that nipped back wickedly.

Although Ward added only 28 runs in the two and a half hours he was out in the middle yesterday, the opener's determination and concentration was instrumental in ensuring that Hampshire would have to score the second-highest total of this game - 285 - in order to gain victory. The former Surrey and England man's five-hour sojourn took him past lunch. Ward hit just one boundary yesterday, to add to the eight fours and one six he had hit the day before.

It was certainly not a foregone conclusion yesterday evening either, after Hampshire lost three wickets in reducing the target to 196. The opener Michael Brown fell to left armer Jason Lewry, Simon Katich was bowled by Mushtaq Ahmed and James Adams fell tamely, clipping Kirtley to square leg.

Warne's return of 4 for 81 from 21 overs will certainly have encouraged Mushtaq. The Hampshire captain took two wickets in an over on two occasions in Sussex's second innings.

The first brace, which accounted for the wicketkeeper Matt Prior and Robin Martin-Jenkins, sparked a mini collapse of three wickets in 10 balls. But Adams remained, a rock in a sea of troubles.

After a stand of 73 with Ward, he helped Mushtaq to hang around for an invaluable 56 for the eighth wicket, the diminutive Pakistani smacking Warne for a six and a four in the same over. Then James Kirtley managed to irritate Hampshire some more with a dogged 17 as he and Adams dug in for 45 more precious runs. Warne then dismissed Kirtley and Lewry in successive balls.

Sean Ervine also did his bit with an economical 2 for 37, having bowled 11 maidens in his 23 overs.

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