Mushtaq ends Warwickshire's run

Sussex 412; Warwickshire 179 & 146 Sussex win by inngs and 87 runs
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The Independent Online

Sussex finally recorded their first victory of the new season, and in so doing inflicted the first Championship defeat on Warwickshire in 20 matches, a run that dates back to the final match of the 2003 season - when Sussex were being crowned champions.

Sussex finally recorded their first victory of the new season, and in so doing inflicted the first Championship defeat on Warwickshire in 20 matches, a run that dates back to the final match of the 2003 season - when Sussex were being crowned champions.

There was something almost obscene in the speed with which the deed was done. Sussex's second victory over Warwickshire in the last 10 years was all over by 4.15. Their previous win over the same opponents - by an innings and 59 runs - had come two years ago on this ground on their way to the 2003 title.

The contrast in the Sussex performances with bat and ball could not have been sharper. While their batsmen had taken the bulk of the first two days to blunt the Warwickshire attack and painstakingly pile up the winning total on a slow pitch, the Sussex bowlers, when they were unleashed, attacked the reigning champions' batting with ruthless efficiency.

It was a fine all-round display from the whole team, with eye-catching returns from the tireless Pakistani leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed, who claimed match figures of 8 for 138, and Jason Lewry, who picked up his 26th five-wicket haul, as he polished off the Warwickshire first innings in the opening 55 minutes of the day.

Mushtaq's performance was remarkable. At 34, he can boast more than 1,000 first-class wickets - a landmark he reached in the first Championship match last season - in a career that began in 1986. When the wily master of the dark arts of spin had the England hopeful Ian Bell, Warwickshire's top scorer in the second innings, caught behind it took him to 200 wickets for Sussex in the two and a bit years he has been on the coast.

His second-innings return of 4 for 65 was his best of the season, surpassing his previous mark, achieved first time around, of 4 for 73. But if the day belonged to Mushtaq, then the morning belonged to the left-armer Lewry, who sliced through the batting with 3 for 11 in fewer than seven overs.

There was scant consolation for Warwickshire, but at least their England spinner Ashley Giles was able to bat without a runner, apparently suffering no ill-effects from the right hip flexor that had restricted his activities the day before and had warranted a scan - the report of which will be made known today. He even thumped a couple of first-innings sixes off Mushtaq, a feat repeated by Dewald Pretorius at the tail end of the second innings.

* Warwickshire's wicketkeeper Keith Piper has been suspended after pleading guilty to a charge of failing a doping test, at an England and Wales Cricket Board hearing. At Piper's request, sentencing has been adjourned until 26 May.

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