Indians 185-3 dec and 184-4
On the way to Hove yesterday you would have bet your mortgage against a full day's play, but thankfully Railtrack have yet to think of on-train bookmakers. If a day that started wet, dark and frozen ended in anti-climax, it was only because there was much to savour in the middle acts, which for a while promised a finish to warm our chilly hearts.
The Indian bowlers, days away from the first one-day international, must wonder if their fingers will thaw enough to feel the seam. At least their batsmen, wrapped in as many clothes as their airline would allow, have served valuable time in the middle, and their management have a pretty good idea of who will take the field at the Oval on Thursday, but bowlers need warm muscles to ease their way into form.
The overnight band of rain on the South Coast left Hove in early morning but the cold remained, and the hardy spectators among the billowing deckchairs looked as if they were assembling for a Saga Holidays expedition to the Himalayas.
The weather and the three-day format decreed this a declaration match from the time on Thursday that Bill Athey and Keith Greenfield put on 154 for the first wicket of the game. On Friday, the acting Indian captain, Sachin Tendulkar, heated the afternoon with a swift 85 and declared 62 adrift, challenging Sussex to set a target that would provide useful practice in a one-day chase.
In making a career-best 141 not out, Greenfield, still without a county cap in his 10th season, ensured that his skipper, Alan Wells, could calculate the equation precisely. If 297 in a minimum of 46 overs seemed on the grafting side, this could only be a tribute to Tendulkar, who makes anything seem possible.
But before his entry there was man-of-the-match Greenfield, a neat, straight- armed performer who started cautiously, greeted the left-arm spinner Sunil Joshi with a mid-morning straight six and moved from 50 to 100 in 34 balls, with 11 boundaries. He deserves that cap.
After the early afternoon declaration, Tendulkar, eager for the chase, promoted himself but saw his partner, Ajay Jadeja, fall immediately to the brisk left-armer Jason Lewry.
It fazed him little. Even when he was gently warming up in early morning, the ball boomed from Tendulkar's bat as if some wizard had fashioned it entirely from "sweet spot", with no dead wood. And now, partnered by the experienced Navjot Sidhu, he was warm enough, and the game was afoot.
As Tendulkar blossomed, the clouds lifted. Exocet cuts, poised clips to square leg, a wafted four backward of square, a lofted club over dead gully: these were shots of genius.
Against quick bowling he can not only change his mind, but find a second boundary option.
It was the Sussex spinner Nicky Phillips, disdainfully treated in the first innings, who undid Tendulkar in the air, and with the skipper's departure the challenge unravelled.
But a day that promised nothing had yielded the seeds of excitement, a morning to remember for Greenfield, and a demonstration of Tendulkar's sublime talent.Reuse content