Davis guides Sussex to lead

Middlesex 392 and 157-5 Sussex 537
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The Independent Online

Mark Davis's career-best 168 helped the new County Championship leaders Sussex close in on their first title as they put Middlesex under pressure on the third day at Hove.

Davis oversaw 136 runs for the last two wickets to reach 537 and a first-innings lead of 145, before Middlesex replied with 157 for five.

Sussex's last four wickets realised 430 thanks to Davis' stand of 195 with Matthew Prior and a last wicket record 106 with Billy Taylor.

Both Davis, who had 97 to his name when play restarted in bright conditions on a good pitch, and Taylor (35 not out) posted their highest first-class scores - the South African notching the second hundred of his career.

He reached three figures in the fifth over of the day, with a handsome square drive off Chad Keegan bringing him his 14th boundary in 232 balls - and by the time he was last out he had added two sixes and three more fours.

Davis was helped by Jason Lewry, who made some handsome drives until he mistimed one off Keegan and was caught by Chris Peploe running round from mid-off. Taylor was happy to bat for his partner as he kept out 146 balls and frustrated Middlesex.

Another 67 runs came, Davis branching out with big hits off Weekes until an attempted launch at Keegan was caught at deep mid-on.

Still, Sussex could sense a victory which, along with the bonus points, would give them a lead of 18 over Surrey and put them in with a chance of taking the title later this week against fellow contenders Lancashire at Old Trafford.

But Middlesex, safe from relegation barring bizarre results, were in no mood to roll over, and Sven Koenig gritted his way to 16 in almost 18 overs before Robin Martin-Jenkins got through his defences for an lbw decision. That was reward for disciplined bowling from the home seam attack, They got a bonus wicket when Hutton was caught at deep backward-square off Taylor.

Mushtaq Ahmed was quiet until his 13th over when he bowled Ed Joyce.

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