Recent Match Report – Sussex vs Middlesex 17th Match 2022

Middlesex 358 (Hollman 82, Simpson 71, Holden 58, Andersson 55, Robinson 5-66) and 370 for 3 (Robson 149, Holden 80*, Handscomb 79) beat Sussex 392 (Alsop 113, Orr 99, Garton 53) and 335 for 4 dec (Pujara 170*, Clark 77, Alsop 66) by seven wickets

A brazen batting display, led by centurion Sam Robson, carried Middlesex to a stunning seven-wicket victory over Sussex on the final day of their Championship contest at Hove.

In a scintillating end to what had been an enthralling match across the whole four days, Middlesex chased down 370 on the back of Robson’s assertive 149 and fifties to Peter Handscomb and Max Holden, who was unbeaten on 80 at the close.

Holden staged a 99-run fourth-wicket stand with Martin Andersson, promoted from No. 8 to No. 5 for Middlesex’s second innings, off just 82 balls to see the visitors over the line in a match where Sussex had held the upper hand for all but the last two sessions. The pair, who had both scored half-centuries in the first innings, chewed through the target with such vigour that they needed just seven runs from the last four overs and they got there with 19 balls to spare.

Sussex were left to ponder what might have been had they not lost time to bad light and rain on Saturday, which ultimately influenced their second-innings declaration.

The hosts resumed on 236 for 3 with the in-form Cheteshwar Pujara unbeaten on 125. Having gone 52 first-class innings without a century, Pujara has been on a roll since joining Sussex, breaking his drought with a stunning 201 not out against Derbyshire on debut for the county and following that with a ton against Worcestershire and 203 against Durham.

He looked on track for another double before the fall of batting partner Tom Clark, with whom he had put on 191 runs for the fourth wicket, prompted Sussex captain Tom Haines to declare half an hour before lunch with a lead of 369 and Pujara unbeaten on 170.

There was drama before Clark’s dismissal, lbw to Luke Hollman for 77, as he and Pujara spent a glorious seaside morning pressing the hosts’ advantage.

Middlesex, already without key strike bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi, who was feeling unwell, lost top-order batter Robbie White to a freakish injury in the field while attempting to cut off one of Pujara’s 25 boundaries, which included three sixes. As Pujara drove Ethan Bamber through mid-off for a certain four, White dived valiantly to his right attempting to parry the ball back with his left hand and landing awkwardly. White was taken from the field on a stretcher with what was later confirmed as a dislocated left shoulder.

Clark survived on 43 when he got an inside edge to a Blake Cullen delivery and beat wicketkeeper John Simpson as it raced away for four. Clark brought up his fifty a short time later with crisp drive to the rope through extra cover off Bamber. Pujara, too, was let off on 166 when he was put down by Mark Stoneman off Hollman at extra cover.

Compounding Stoneman’s woes, he was out in the second over of the Middlesex reply, lbw to Aaron Beard as the visitors slumped to 1 for 1 chasing 370 in 77 overs.

Sussex lacked penetration in the middle session as Robson and Handscomb added 138 runs to the Middlesex cause. Still missing several bowlers through injury and with Ollie Robinson and George Garton making their first appearances in months, the hosts were left wanting for firepower with the former spending a brief time off the field after bowling nine overs and the latter used sparingly following his battle with long Covid.

Robson reached his fifty off 74 balls while Handscomb went to tea on 47 not out from 107, meaning Middlesex would need 231 from 38 overs in the final session. They set about it with good application, no sooner had Robson brought up his ton than he pulled Sean Hunt for six to move to 107. It was the first time Robson had passed fifty in a first-class match since his 253 in the corresponding fixture last September.

Handscomb, meanwhile, had already raised his fifty – just his second in 17 innings for Middlesex. But Robinson, who had claimed five first-innings wickets, again proved his value as soon as he returned to the attack. He struck with his third ball back, trapping Handscomb lbw for 79 to end the second-wicket partnership on 209 with Middlesex still needing 160 runs.

Robinson bowled just three overs in his second spell but when he re-entered, he made an immediate impact once more, ending Robson’s charge with another lbw.

Andersson and Holden pushed on in lively pursuit. Holden brought up his second half-century of the match from 49 balls, carving out seven fours along the way. With 10 overs remaining, Middlesex needed 58 runs to win and Andersson duly smashed Beard for six over long-on and from there, the duo made victory look like a stroll down the promenade.

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo

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