County round-up: Wells digs deep to edge Sussex home - Cricket - Sport - The Independent

County round-up: Wells digs deep to edge Sussex home

The unpredictable start to the County Championship season continued with promoted Sussex surviving a tense finish to win in Durham, who had to count the cost of dropped catches.

Beaten by an innings by Lancashire in their opening match, Sussex scraped home by a jittery two wickets on the back of a maiden century by 20-year-old Luke Wells, who rode his luck after being put down before he had added to his overnight 74.

Substitute fielder Gareth Breese, on the field after Michael di Venuto had suffered back spasms, was the guilty party, spilling a chance at second slip off Mitch Claydon's bowling.

The escape enabled Wells and Ben Brown to extend their fifth-wicket stand to 128 as Sussex closed to within 32 runs of victory, although last year's Second Division champions threatened to wilt under a fierce attack from Durham's West Indian-born pace bowler Ruel Brathwaite before crossing the line.

The England-qualified bowler, given his chance in a Durham line-up missing their four first-choice quicks, reduced Sussex from 277 for 4 to 294 for 8 to give him five wickets in the innings.

He would have had a sixth if Scott Borthwick had held a difficult chance at third slip with 15 runs still needed. Instead, Amjad Khan's edge went for four and Sussex hung on to complete a notable comeback, having been 98 behind on first innings and seemingly out of contention when Durham began the third day 265 runs in front with five wickets in hand.

Largely due to the combined efforts of Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and Monty Panesar, Durham lost their last seven second-innings wickets for 70, leaving Sussex their target of 309 to win.

Middlesex made it two wins from two matches to lead the early Division Two table after chasing down a stiff target of 328 to beat Derbyshire by three wickets at Derby, Gareth Berg and Ollie Rayner carrying them to victory.

Derbyshire looked favourites when Middlesex slipped from 145 for 2 overnight to 197 for 6, but Berg and Rayner put on 97 for the seventh wicket in 24 overs.

Berg, who also picked up six wickets in the match, made 80 from 115 balls before Tony Palladino, who was unlucky to end up on the losing side, made him his ninth victim of the contest, while Rayner finished unbeaten on 58.

A third-wicket partnership of 129 between Gareth Rees and Mike Powell secured a draw for Glamorgan after Surrey had asked them to follow on 180 runs behind at Cardiff.

Opener Rees stuck around for 89 in more than four hours and Powell made 65 after the home side had lost a couple of early wickets.

Similarly, Matt Walker (70no) and Mark Pettini (67no) shared an unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 147 to see Essex to safety against Northamptonshire at Wantage Road.

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