Mushtaq spins a magic spell

Sussex 545 Warwickshire 194-8
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The Independent Online

The power of scoreboard pressure was perfectly exemplified yesterday by Sussex as they profited from an excellent wicket and some indifferent bowling to amass 545, and then reduced Warwickshire to 194 for 8.

Batting against such a total is always difficult, especially when physically and mentally drained after chasing leather in the heat for four sessions. Yet the pitch was so good, possibly better than the first day as the sunshine baked it drier, and the outfield so fast that the visitors' effort can only be described as abject.

In mitigation, they did have to face a disciplined, highly motivated bowling attack that included the wonderful guile of Mushtaq Ahmed. He possesses all the charm and wit of a conjurer as Ian Bell discovered when he attempted a late-cut, was fooled by the googly and departed lbw.

For the crowd it was a delight to watch - a gloriously sunny day, a good pitch and a world-class leg-spinner with a bag of tricks. Hopefully Warwickshire's own twirly-man, Collins Obuya, was an interested spectator. Presently he lacks the confidence and effervescence that is a pre-requisite for a wrist spinner - and it manifests itself in too many long-hops and full-tosses.

It is a bit harsh to compare Obuya to Mushtaq as he is just starting out on this perilous profession of wrist spin while Mushtaq is highly experienced and a World Cup winner. However, long-hops from the Pakistani were rare and four fielders hovered around the bat anticipating a catch.

Obuya's four most important fielders were patrolling the ropes anticipating a member of the crowd throwing the ball back. He did have Matt Prior dropped at deep mid-wicket on 70 but it was a poor delivery that was miscued, Prior probably tiring from swatting the assorted half-trackers to the boundary. Supported ably by James Kirtley, Prior then continued to his second century of the season before swiping unnecessarily.

Shrewdly Chris Adams, the Sussex captain, refused Warwickshire the confidence boost of easy boundaries, preferring to attack early with the new ball and then give his third seamer, Robin Martin-Jenkins, protection on the square boundaries.

In contrast, Mushtaq had two silly-points, finished with three wickets and now has 45 in the Championship. He even affected a run out from long-leg, trapping Tony Frost a yard short when his throw trimmed the bails. From 22 yards or 70, Mushtaq's magic arm dominated Warwickshire.