Sussex gave themselves the chance to claim a second win of the season which could see them top of the County Championship Division 2 table after forcing Leicestershire to follow.
The home side were fired for 270 in response to Sussex’s 430 on day three at Grace Road, Ari Karvelas and Fynn Hudson-Prentice taking four wickets apiece.
Leicestershire fought back 160-7, thanks in large part to Rehan Ahmed (59 not out) and Chris Wright (48), but still fell short and went 16 unbeaten in their second leg at the end.
A stunning unbeaten run of 182 by Tom Alsop, who shared a position of 169 with James Coles (70) for the fifth wicket, was responsible for putting Sussex in such a strong position despite Wiaan Mulder’s 5-63 and 3- 75 from Tom Scriven on a best day for Leicestershire bowlers.
If the Sussexes secure a win on the final day, they will move to at least second in the table and top if Durham fail to secure victory over Yorkshire in Chester-le-Street.
Picking up at Leicester 319-4, Sussex’s morning was developing in the direction they had hoped for the first 10 overs as Alsop and Coles ran to nearly five, extending their partnership from 48 to 169.
After 19-year-old Coles missed Scriven halfway through, Sussex’s last six wickets fell in 17 overs for 63 in what looked like an anticlimactic end to an innings they had hoped to top 500 runs, although that 430 after being set up was hardly an underperformance.
There was no dislodging of Alsop, who surpassed his previous record of 150 in the most after Coles disappeared, but he needed more support and none was forthcoming.
Generating more swing than they could find on Friday, Wright quickly got Oli Carter caught on the second slide, Scriven dismissed the Hudson-Prentice leg forward with a ball that kept a bit low and Wright picked up a second wicket when Karvelas had no response to a full delivery that took his stump out.
Mulder looped the tail to complete his second five for in as many innings, having Henry Crocombe catch on the slip, seeing off Bradley Currie for a 15-ball duck.
Nevertheless, Sussex had doubled their runs at bat from two to four thanks to Alsop’s impressive and luckless innings, and 430 looked a formidable tally as Hudson-Prentice cut Leicestershire from 70-1 to 79-4 taking three wickets. for an 11-delivery space race.
The former Derbyshire all-rounder brushed the outside edge for Rishi Patel to be taken behind for a brilliant 34 and fired Colin Ackermann for a two-ball duck as the former Leicestershire captain was beaten by whoever hit on the back cushion.
Current captain Lewis Hill suffered the same mode of dismissal, although perhaps unfortunately given his front leg looked well forward and across.
All of this after Hudson-Prentice appeared to be injured while playing his first pitch, limping back to his mark by flexing his left leg, albeit somehow, late in the game. together everything was fine. When he rested, it was with numbers 3-12 over seven overs.
Deprived of their two main wicket-takers, Ollie Robinson at England’s request and Nathan McAndrew to free up a place abroad for Smith, there is an inexperienced feel to this seam attack from Sussex.
Still, Cheteshwar Pujara, the Sussex captain, used his resources well, maintaining attacking fields and turning wisely. Karvelas and Currie, both making their first appearances of the season, knocked out Mulder and Australian wicket-keeper batsman Peter Handscomb in the first four overs after tea, leaving Leicestershire six for 135.
Mulder was pinned in front by Karvelas before Handscomb, who has been the bedrock of Leicestershire’s improved form this season, edged out Currie. When Crocombe produced the ball of the day to beat Scriven, Leicestershire were 160-7.
Wright looked to knock his side out of trouble and threatened to do so, racking up 48 from 41 in an entertaining flurry of six fours and a six into the net on the square leg as he and Ahmed put up 69 for the eighth ticket office.
But Karvelas, who had seen Ahmed fall into the ravine on the 34th, edged Wright out behind, putting pressure on Leicestershire with the trailing target still at 52 points.
Another 40 added by Ahmed with Will Davis brought Leicestershire temptingly closer, but Davis was taken out of Hudson-Prentice first and Ahmed’s effort to protect Hudson-Prentice’s last man Josh Hull by taking a leg at the goodbye on fifth ball from a Karvelas backfired as the last hit Hull’s front cushion squarely in front.
Report provided by the ECB Reporters Network.