Openers Chris Nash and Ed Joyce put Sussex on the verge of victory

Brian Pollard reports from the PROBIZ County Ground.

A superb piece of strike bowling Rana Naved and a majestic 200 partnership from openers Chris Nash and Ed Joyce put Sussex on the verge of an outstanding victory over Somerset in the two sides’ LV= county championship game at Hove today.

Rana bagged his second five-wicket haul of the match with a sizzling display of bowling after lunch while Nash later struck his maiden first class century of the summer.

Sussex had been looking down the barrel at lunch today on day three, with the West Country team led by Marcus Trescothick 242 runs ahead and with five second innings wickets still in hand.

But Pakistan-born pace bowler Rana then blew the visitors away after the lunch interval, returning figures of 4-12 in 5.2 overs as Somerset added just another 29 runs to their lunchtime score. Rana was also responsible for the other wicket to fall in that spell, a direct run out to dismiss Germaal Hussain.

That left Sussex with a very attainable target of 272 to win, with a day and a half’s play left in the match – and the home openers wasted little time in knocking off the runs needed.

The hosts moved imperiously on to reach 105-0 at tea, with Ed Joyce unbeaten on 41 and Nash 57 not out.

The game was held up for several moments after the break while Nash received attention after being hit at the top of his thigh by a delivery from Steve Kirby. But that failed to stop the Sussex opening pair moving ever closer to the winning line.

Joyce brought up his half-century off 75 balls, another fine knock from the Irishman; his sixth score of 50 or more this season, and one that included eight fours.

Nash then reached his first century of 2011 in 139 balls, and the opener brought up the milestone in some style, hitting consecutive fours to reach the hundred mark. His ton was made up of 14 fours. Sussex-born Nash, 28, has been in the runs aplenty this season, with seven half-centuries in first class and List A matches already this summer. But before today he had failed to turn any of these decent knocks into a properly big innings. His enthusiastic fist-pump at reaching 100 betrayed his joy at finally breaking that duck.

The 200-partnership came with 46 overs bowled, just before Somerset struck with their first and only wicket of the day. With Charl Willoughby and Kirby having toiled with little success, freshly introduced bowler Lewis Gregory worked some magic instantly, dismissing Joyce lbw for 84.

At close, Sussex were on 218-1, just 54 runs away from victory with a full day’s play awaiting tomorrow and good weather forecast.

Nash was unbeaten on 111 off 165 balls, having hit 15 fours. Luke Wells was alongside him on 15 off 30 balls.

This had been only Rana’s second ever 10-wicket haul for Sussex, the 33-year-old returning 5-82 in the second innings to complement his 5-79 in the first.

Sussex had earlier been bowled out for a disappointing 177 first innings total in response to Somerset’s first innings score of 213. Former England Ashes hero Marcus Trescothick claimed two half centuries in the match, with a 63 in the first innings followed by a 79 in the second. Sussex pace bowler James Anyon picked up five wickets in the match, taking 2-61 and 3-39 in each Somerset innings.