Zaidi and Yardy put Sussex on top

Ashar Zaidi and Michael Yardy made unbeaten half-centuries as Sussex fought back impressively in their crucial LV= County Championship game at a blustery County Ground.

A win for either side, who started the game level on 176 points, should preserve Division One status and Sussex will probably feel more satisfied after day one having reached 303 for six at stumps.

The seventh wicket pair have so far added 132 in 29 overs at nearly five runs an over, Zaidi leading an impressive counter-attack with 90 off just 93 balls.

Yardy, who is playing his last game on home soil before retirement, provided excellent support with an unbeaten 60.

Until they came together it had been Somerset’s day. They reduced Sussex to 171 for six shortly after tea when Ben Brown fell for a duck as he tried to turn a full toss from Jack Leach to leg and was horrified to see the ball balloon into the hands of Craig Overton at cover.

Having had just one day’s rest after being in the field on Friday and Saturday against Hampshire, the Somerset bowlers would have been keen for the opportunity to rest but, after Sussex won the toss, they bowled with commendable discipline.

The occasional ball bounced disconcertingly but otherwise the pitch played well, although a fierce crosswind was often a handicap for Somerset’s seamers while early rain and two short showers took 17 overs off the day’s allocation.

The big wicket fell just before tea when Sussex skipper Ed Joyce wafted at a ball down the leg side from Jack Overton after more than three hours of patient accumulation had taken him to 83.

Sussex needed their captain to be at his best as a succession of wickets fell at the other end, some to ill-judged strokes. Luke Wells fatally chased width and Matt Machan drove loosely to cover while after lunch Chris Nash edged to second slip, gloving a ball from Peter Trego that spat off a length.

Luke Wright threatened to play a dominant innings but on 20 his prod forward gave Allenby a wicket and Somerset skipper Marcus Trescothick his third catch of the day at second slip.

Joyce’s rare indiscretion gave Jamie Overton his second success and Somerset were in control when Brown departed, before Zaidi and Yardy cashed in against an attack that finally began to tire.

Yardy took 77 balls to reach his fifty and Zaidi followed him in the next over off just 56 deliveries.

And as the ball got old boundaries came regularly. Zaidi had some moments of luck, most notably when he flashed hard through the slips and Trego was unable to get his hands on the ball, but he has helped put Sussex in a decent position.

Sussex captain Joyce said: “It was a pretty good day for us in the end thanks to the partnership Asher and Yards put together, that probably tilted it slightly in our favour.

“We didn’t realise until fairly recently that Ash is best when he plays like that. He’s a good counter-attacker. He played really well and showed some class with some of the shots he played.

“The new ball is due after two overs tomorrow, which they will want but it’s also gives us a good opportunity to perhaps score quickly. If we can just get through the first 10 overs or so without losing these two then hopefully we can get ourselves up to a good total.

Somerset director of cricket Matt Maynard added: “It was a tough day to be out there in those high winds, especially coming off two long days in the field in our last game.

“I thought our bowlers were a bit unlucky. Zaidi and Yardy played very well after tea when they came at our bowlers but there was also a lot of playing and missing so we could have had a couple more wickets with 30 or so less runs on their score which would have made it a really good day for us.”

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