Northamptonshire had to dig in with the bat and ball on Day 3 although their game against Sussex at the 1st Central County Ground looks likely to end in a draw.

Sussex opener Tom Haines hit a excellent 133, as Sussex reached 351 for 6 at stumps on day three, trailing by 20.

The hosts had been in a spot of bother at 94 for 3 but James Coles hit 78 in a fourth-wicket stand of 137 with Haines to help their chase.

Left-arm spinner Saif Zaib checked Sussex progress by removing both set batters and Sussex captain John Simpson, but in the final hour Fynn Hudson-Prentice and Danny Lamb wrested back the initiative with some aggressive batting, Hudson-Prentice thrashing a 38-ball fifty as they added 93 from 70 balls before bad light intervened with 7.4 overs remaining. 

Haines and his new opening partner Tom Clark had launched Sussex’s reply with an untroubled stand of 55 before Clark was leg before pushing forward to off-spinner Rob Keogh, who struck again when Tom Alsop missed a delivery down the leg side which went between his legs and Lewis McManus completed a sharp stumping.

The persevering Ben Sanderson – the pick of the Northamptonshire’s attack – knocked back Oli Carter’s off stump with a no ball and did so again – this time with a legitimate delivery – two balls later.

Haines reached his second hundred against Northamptonshire with a single off Sanderson and Coles seemed certain to follow him but both gifted their wickets to Zaib. Coles drove a long hop to mid-on and Haines drilled a full toss to mid-off after facing 183 balls and hitting 19 fours. In between Simpson played on as Zaib collected three wickets in a Championship innings for the first time since 2016.

At the start of the day, Northamptonshire added 78 runs in an hour before being dismissed for 371. Sussex made an early breakthrough when Michael Finan drove loosely to extra cover to give Jayden Seales his fourth wicket. He would have had a debut five-for had Jack Carson not put down a regulation chance at fourth slip to reprieve Sanderson when he had yet to score.

It was to prove costly when Sanderson cut loose. He greeted Ollie Robinson by hitting two boundaries off his first over and put on 41 at more than a run a ball for the ninth wicket with McManus.

Robinson eventually got his man when Sanderson (27) top-edged an attempted pull but McManus progressed on to a well-made fifty before he was caught off a top-edge to give left-arm spinner Coles his third wicket.