Sussex 211 & 262 Hampshire 168 & 211: Mushtaq turns it on

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The Independent Online

Luciano Pavarotti, the Italian operatic tenor, is scheduled to appear here later this summer, and tickets went on sale yesterday. By the time the fat man sings - 12 July - Hampshire had better make sure they have improved.

This was a decidedly downbeat performance by the home side, which cannot all be put down to the fact that the team lack their captain, Shane Warne.

The Australia leg-spinner arrives tomorrow, and he will not welcome the news that an eight-match unbeaten run in the Championship, which began with victory over Sussex here last July, has been ended by the same side. It was not pretty to watch.

As well as the Hampshire attack bowled - at least until a mid-morning onslaught by Robin Martin-Jenkins during which 113 runs were added in 22 overs - there have just not been enough runs. This has been the second of their opening two matches in which Hampshire have failed to gain a single batting bonus point.

Throughout the match, the Hampshire batsmen have been victims in turn of Pakistani pace and Pakistani prestidigitation, in the guise of Rana Naved and the leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed. Rana had put the skids under Hampshire first time around, yesterday it was Mushtaq's turn and the old master showed he has lost none of his magic.

A wicked spell of four wickets in 24 balls up to tea did for the sorry home side. Just for good measure, Mushtaq struck again shortly after the interval to account for Dominic Thornely, Hampshire's top scorer and last realistic hope. Thornely was one of five lbw victims for Mushtaq, but he needed no help to dismiss Shaun Udal, bowling the acting Hampshire captain middle stump.

There was a flurry of resistance from Chris Tremlett, who clobbered Mushtaq for a couple of sixes before falling leg before attempting a sweep-slog. Mushtaq's return of 7 for 64 was his best return for Sussex and the 83rd time he has claimed five or more in an innings in his first-class career.

Earlier in the day, Martin-Jenkins had taken his overnight score of 16 to 91 as he led a Sussex revival that helped to set the victory target of 306. He fell to one of the brighter elements of the Hampshire team, the seamer James Bruce, who bowled admirably throughout for a match return of 5 for 94. The fact that Hampshire had plenty of time to get the runs was immaterial - Sussex had Mushtaq.