Saqlain's spin keeps Surrey out in front

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The Independent Online

County Championship leaders Surrey chalked up their fifth win of the season as they completed an emphatic 135-run win over Warwickshire at Edgbaston on Saturday.

The Pakistan off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq claimed four wickets to finish with second-innings figures of 5 for 134 as Warwickshire were bowled out for 425. Surrey's win gave them a 26-point lead at the top of the table, but Sussex still have a games in hand. "There is still a lot of cricket to play, but we already have points in the bag and the pressure is now on the other teams," said the Surrey captain Adam Hollioake.

Dougie Brown offered some resistance with 56 and last man Waqar Younis hit an unbeaten 30, but despite their total being their highest fourth-innings score of the season, the home side were still well short.

Second-placed Sussex kept up their pursuit of the champions with a six-wicket win over Essex at Arundel, their fourth victory in five games. Tony Cottey and Tim Ambrose were both in fine form as the home side made light work of their 256-run target.

Cottey followed his first-innings 107 by compiling 98 and Tim Ambrose made an unbeaten 93 as Sussex got home with 4.5 overs to spare. The pair, who shared a stand of 178 for the same fourth wicket in the first innings, batted with great concentration once more for 55 overs to put on 172.

Cottey struck eight fours in his four-hour stint and the former Glamorgan batsman was two short of his third successive century when he pushed forward to pace bowler Jonathan Dakin and edged a catch to wicketkeeper James Foster.

Ambrose went on to compile 11 boundaries in his 214-ball knock and he and Robin Martin-Jenkins (21no) saw Sussex to their target after Cottey fell with 52 runs needed.

Sussex had earlier polished off the Essex second innings, claiming the remaining four wickets for just 20 runs to bowl them out for 274. Jason Lewry took three of them to finish with his second five-for of the match and final figures of 10 for 124.

In the other First Division match, Middlesex ran out eight-wicket winners over bottom side Leicestershire on an exciting day at Southgate.

The visitors, after conceding a first-innings deficit of 173, did at least manage to make a fight of it as Brad Hodge (112) and Darren Maddy (94) helped them reach 335 in the second innings. That left Middlesex facing a target of 163, but captain Andrew Strauss followed up his first-innings ton with 73 in 67 balls to lead his side home in 24 overs.

In the Second Division, Somerset failed to get near Glamorgan as they slumped to a 110-run defeat at Sophia Gardens. Michael Burns kept his side in contention with 106 but wickets continued to fall at regular intervals and the visitors were bowled out for 313. Alex Wharf claimed 4 for 90 as Glamorgan kept themselves firmly in the promotion picture.