Nasser Hussain, the England captain, fell agonisingly short of his 50th first-class century but still provided the backbone of Essex's innings in their County Championship First Division match against Sussex at Arundel yesterday.
Essex made a poor start but Hussain's 95 helped them to 305 for 8 by the close. Hussain put on 72 with Andy Flower (37) as Essex recovered from 23 for 2 but wickets continued to fall at regular intervals.
Hussain helped the score past the 200-mark but went soon after, falling to the leg-spin of Mushtaq Ahmed after hitting 11 fours and a six. It was left to Jon Dakin, with 35, and an unbroken ninth-wicket stand of 90 between Graham Napier, with 62 not out, and Ryan ten Doeschate to steer the visitors through to stumps. Jason Lewry ended the day with 4 for 57 from his 24 overs.
Elsewhere in the First Division, Kent's Ed Smith scored 149 as Kent posted a total of 362 against Nottinghamshire at Maidstone. The wicketkeeper Geraint Jones contrib-uted 82, while the New Zealand spinner Daniel Vettori captured 4 for 74 on his Championship debut.
The Nottinghamshire captain, Jason Gallian, struck 51 as the visitors began their reply positively. But the Pakistan pace bowler Mohammad Sami grabbed three wickets to reduce them to 137 for 5.
At Southgate, Middlesex's captain Andrew Strauss made 147 as his side reached 382 for 5 against Leicestershire, who are bottom of Division One. The Irishman Ed Joyce remained unbeaten on 81.
In the Second Division, Gary Pratt compiled 150 out of Durham's total of 325 for 9 against North-amptonshire at the Riverside. Medium-pacer Mike Cawdron picked up figures of 6 for 87.
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