Sussex 212 Hampshire 31-1 <i>(Match abandoned at 73 mins)</i>: Rana's innings helps restore Sussex pride

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The Independent Online

It took a shade over an hour yesterday for Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Sussex's Pakistani all-rounder, to wrest the initiative away from Hampshire after they had dominated proceedings all day.

First, Rana wielded his bat to restore some pride into a flabby first innings and salvage a solitary batting bonus point.

Then, he put the hosts on the back foot with the first ball of their reply when he claimed the wicket of opener Michael Brown, caught behind off an unwise drive.

Rana, who claimed 54 Championship wickets for Sussex last season after joining them in mid-July, proved then that he is no slouch with the bat by scoring a hundred against Middlesex at Lord's.

There was nothing quite so grand in his offering yesterday, but his run-a-ball 38, which included a six, was an admirable knock in the context of what had gone before.

With the exception of captain Chris Adams, who made a fist of things with a canny half century, and a stodgier innings from Carl Hopkinson, the remainder of the Sussex batsmen were guilty of poor shots.

All 10 were caught, but only two were out in the deep. The rest fell to catches behind the wicket or in the slips, suggesting a flirtation with good balls just outside the line of off-stump that should have been left alone.

Adams was at the crease for the best part of three hours to provide some staying power, allied to some run-getting. The same was not quite true of opener Hopkinson, who took 65 minutes to get off the mark.

Three and a half hours later he was closing in on Jamie Hall's Sussex record for the slowest fifty, which has stood since 1994 at 302 minutes. However, he became one of Dominic Thornely's three victims - the Australian's return of 3 for 38 being a career-best - before he could reach the mark, having faced 167 balls.

Part of Sussex's problems was the accuracy and niggardliness of the Hampshire attack. James Bruce was particularly impressive with the new ball, collecting four maidens in an opening spell that contained the valuable wicket of Richard Montgomerie.

The pitch, on the golf course side of the Rose Bowl square, was well-behaved. There was some irregular bounce, but nothing which rang any alarms or provoked any excursions from the pitch inspector, Peter Walker.

Anyway, Rana's belligerent innings gave the lie to the presence of any demons in the track, until he sowed a few seeds of doubt with that first ball to Hampshire.