Tom Alsop’s unbeaten century helped Sussex put themselves in a strong position despite falling cheaply to Steve Smith as their wet County Championship clash in Leicestershire finally got underway.
Australian star Smith, who scored a low 30 on his Sussex debut at Worcester last week, was back in the clubhouse after scoring just three out of 14 before being trapped by South African dressmaker Wiaan Mulder.
Smith, halfway through a three-game spell with the Division Two side, had spent Thursday ensconced in the dressing room as Leicestershire ground staff tried unsuccessfully to make a saturated outfield fit for play.
However, despite his failure, the Sussexes still had a strong second day as they went 319-4 after being sent off to bat, with Alsop (118*), Cheteshwar Pujara (77) and James Coles (59* ) on your mind.
On a cold day when batting conditions were generally difficult, Leicestershire initially struggled to contain Sussex openers Ali Orr and Tom Clark, but first change Mulder struck twice in his first spell to reduce the visitors at 53-2.
The all-rounder, featured in his county cap on the opening day without play, found the inside edge of Clark’s bat in his second game and followed by trapping Orr lbw with one that hit him at the height of the tibia.
But Sussex captain Pujara drew on his deep store of experience to frustrate Leicestershire bowlers, never losing patience when the going got tough.
Those qualities have rubbed off on Alsop, who took 150 and 60 steps when the teams met at Hove last season and shone again here as he reached his half-century from 126 balls.
Pujara largely dealt with the limits, 11 of them in his first 50, as he continued his stunning form for Sussex, the India Test hitter having passed fifty-eight times previously for the county and never failing to make 100.
It appeared these innings would follow a similar pattern but, having moved to 77, he was caught by wicketkeeper Peter Handscomb via his pad from Tom Scriven’s bowling alley.
Pujara’s departure ushered in Smith, but any expectations that the prolific Australian could trump his likely opponent in next month’s World Test Championship final quickly evaporated.
Smith looked nervous from the start, surviving a confident call for the front leg by the impatient Scriven from his second face ball as he offered no shot.
It seemed that only height could have saved him. There was no such doubt three overs later, when Smith lunged for a ball from Mulder that came back a bit and would certainly have hit the stumps.
Sussex was well placed 208-4 at tea, but Smith went towards a feeling of anti-climax.
The final session, which would have lasted a marathon 39 overs had the bad light not interrupted play 13 overs before the scheduled close, saw Alsop complete a century of 212 balls when he cut the occasional rotation of Sol Budinger for his 14th four before 19. -Former all-rounder Coles hit his fourth first-class fifty from 69 balls.
Report provided by the ECB Reporters Network.