Chawla's subtle spin rolls back the years for Sussex

Yorkshire 274-7 v Sussex
Click to follow
The Independent Online

There is no Mushtaq Ahmed to lead Sussex to Championship glory any more but another leg spinner might just make the difference in preserving their First Division status.

Piyush Chawla, who finished with 4 for 82 from 37 overs on the first day against fellow strugglers Yorkshire, does not sport a bushy beard nor does he appeal two or three times every over, but the 20-year-old Indian evoked some pleasant memories yesterday for Sussex supporters who watched Mushtaq help them lift three titles in five seasons.

Since winning their last Championship in 2007 Sussex have fought two battles to stay in the top-flight. They began this game four points adrift of their opponents in the table with only two wins over doomed Worcestershire in the Championship so far this year.

Sussex might have become the best one-day side in the country this season but an unfortunate consequence of their success is that they ran out of fresh pitches a month ago. Coach Mark Robinson would have preferred to have engaged his former county on a green top, backing his seamers to win on a result pitch. Instead the wicket was low and slow, and when Yorkshire won the toss on a blustery day home fans feared the worst.

The mood brightened straight away in the Hove deckchairs when Jason Lewry swung one into the pads of Yorkshire's leading run-scorer Jacques Rudolph for a third-ball duck. There were periods thereafter when the visitors threatened to take control, notably during a sixth-wicket stand of 60 between Andrew Gale and Gerard Brophy, but this was Sussex's day.

Unlike his predecessor, Chawla's stock delivery is the leg break rather than the googly but it was his wrong 'un which neither Jonathan Bairstow or Brophy failed to pick. Joe Sayers wasted an hour of careful reconnaissance at the start of the day when he was stumped giving Chawla the charge in his second over. Anthony McGrath was then smartly picked up by wicketkeeper Andrew Hodd as he propped forward to a leg break to give Chawla his 200th first-class wicket.

There was turn for the spinner but it was not outrageous. Patience is the most precious virtue on a pitch such as this and while Adam Lyth stroked 10 fours in a skittish half-century, the best batting came from Gale who was prepared to sit in for long periods and pick off the occasional bad delivery until he drove to short cover after lodging his sixth half-century of the season.