Mushtaq strikes to revive Sussex hopes

Middlesex 392 v Sussex
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The Independent Online

Mushtaq Ahmed sparked a late Middlesex collapse by taking 6 for 145 as title-chasing Sussex fought back to dismiss Middlesex for 392 here yesterday.

The former Pakistan Test leg-spinner extended his season's tally to 95 in an eventful finish to the day which saw Middlesex lose their last five wickets in 27 balls for just 18 runs. This was the 10th time this season that Mushtaq has taken five wickets or more in an innings, and his supreme effort saw him bowl unchanged for the last 31 overs.

Sussex were left with two overs to face but their reply never got going as the openers Murray Goodwin and Richard Montgomerie were offered the light. Andrew Strauss and Owais Shah had put Middlesex on top on a good batting pitch, each scoring centuries before Mushtaq got going to take 6 for 32 in 14 overs after tea.

Strauss strengthened his claim for an England winter tour place with his fourth Championship hundred of the season as he and Shah put on 219 in 49 overs for the third wicket. Strauss' 138 took his aggregate to 1,372 runs and he boasts an average of 54.88.

He helped himself to 21 fours and a six before he fell to the medium-pacer Robin Martin-Jenkins, and Shah was later out for 140 to Mushtaq, who is aiming to become only the fifth bowler since 1991 to take 100 wickets in a county season.

Jason Lewry struck two early blows for Sussex, unbeaten in the Championship for three months, by removing Sven Koenig and Ben Hutton with only 33 on the board.

Lewry, who had 2 for 6 in his first seven overs, bowled Koenig off an inside-edge as he stretched forward, then trapped Hutton leg-before playing across the line.

But Strauss and Shah quickly warmed to the task and Strauss hoisted Mushtaq high over midwicket on the way to reaching his 50 from 74 balls.

The Middlesex captain advanced to his 100 from only a further 26 deliveries, and the pair had compiled their side's highest third-wicket stand of the season when Strauss was caught low down by Matt Prior at short extra-cover driving firmly. Shah responded by reaching his second Championship century of the season in 150 balls with 10 fours and a six.

Mushtaq had to wait until the second over after tea before claiming his first wicket, when Ed Joyce became his 90th victim of the season.