Leicestershire thrive on three-century day with contest destined for draw

Leicestershire 529 for 4 (Ackermann 167, Mulder 129, Kimber 104, Patel 99) trail Sussex 588 (Alsop 150, Orr 70, Carter 75, Rawlins 75, Coles 59, Parkinson 5-128) by 59 runs

Louis Kimber, Colin Ackermann and Wiaan Mulder all made centuries as Leicestershire’s batters enjoyed a placid Hove pitch as much as Sussex’s had on the third day of their LV= Insurance County Championship match at Hove.
There should have been a fourth hundred to celebrate for the Foxes but Rishi Patel was out for 99 as Leicestershire responded to Sussex’s 588 with 529 for four, Ackermann (167) and Mulder (129) having added 250 for the fifth wicket so far.

Sussex’s bowlers plugged away but only 13 wickets have fallen in three days and the contest, between the bottom two sides in the second division, is destined for a draw, although Leicestershire may feel they could apply pressure if they can score quickly and get a decent lead on the final day.

There were a couple of moments during a soporific day when Sussex might have taken the initiative. They were certainly left to rue not running out Ackermann on 71 when he would have been well short had Delray Rawlins thrown more accurately from short mid-wicket to the non-striker’s end.

Mulder was dropped on 107 but it was a day of unrelenting toil in the heat for a Sussex attack weakened by the absence of skipper Tom Haines, who has a broken hand, and the lack of a front-line spinner. Haines’ deputy Steven Finn bowled impressively to take two of three wickets to fall but Leicestershire’s batters were in punishing mood.

At the start of the day Kimber, who is playing only his 12th first-class match at the age of 25, reached his century with a lovely extra-cover drive to the boundary off Finn in the fourth over of the day. But Finn pinned Kimber lbw in his next over for 104, which included 11 fours and three sixes.

Kimber had added 174 for the second wicket with Patel, who resumed on 67 and looked certain to follow his team-mate to a first Championship hundred. Then, with a single needed and with three balls to go before lunch, he inexplicably charged down the pitch to off-spinner James Coles and feathered a thin edge behind, having struck 17 fours and a six in nearly five hours of patient accumulation.

Finn struck in the fourth over with the new ball when he took a low return catch in his follow-through to remove Lewis Hill for 10, but after that Ackermann and Mulder shaped the rest of the day.

Ackermann, who gave up the Championship captaincy in May, followed up his hundred against Nottinghamshire in his previous Championship appearance by reaching the 20th of his career shortly after tea. South African all-rounder Mulder followed him by driving Sean Hunt to the long-on boundary to bring up his sixth first-class century, but he was badly missed by wicketkeeper Oli Carter shortly afterwards off Henry Crocombe.

As Sussex searched for a breakthrough, Cheteshwar Pujara came on to bowl his very occasional leg breaks but by then Ackermann and Mulder were in full control. They posted a new record for Leicestershire’s fifth wicket against Sussex – beating John Sadler and David Masters’ 208 at Hove in 2003 in the game when Sussex clinched the Championship title for the first time – with power to add.

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