Mushtaq's haul takes Sussex to brink of title

Middlesex 392 and 250 Sussex 537 and 106-3 Sussex win by 7 wickets
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The Independent Online

Mushtaq Ahmed produced another flurry of wickets yesterday as Sussex wrapped up a maximum-points win over Middlesex at Hove to stand on the verge of their first County Championship title.

The Pakistani leg-spinner finished off the tail with a spell of 3 for 3 in 11 balls for his fifth 10-wicket match haul of a remarkable season and leave himself one short of becoming the first to take 100 in a Championship summer since 1998.

Mushtaq hurried Middlesex out for 250 in their second innings, leaving his team the formality of knocking off 106, which was routinely achieved in 27.5 overs to complete a seven-wicket win shortly after tea on a good last-day pitch.

Sussex need only 10 points from their last two matches, beginning against fellow contenders Lancashire at Old Trafford tomorrow, to take their first title following seven second-place finishes since they first started trying in 1890.

Mushtaq's impact on Sussex's summer can scarcely be overstated, and their captain Chris Adams is duly grateful. "He was wicketless in the first session today but he just came back and did it again," Adams said. "He has been brilliant, and to finish with 10 wickets again sums it up."

The maximum-points win was harder-earned than many predicted, and Adams added: "I must admit to feeling quite a bit of pressure in the morning. They are a difficult team to break down and they provided as tough a game as we have had all season. It is a big relief. We are in pole position now."