Unlikely duo help Sussex build big score before Ackermann responds
Michael Burgess’ century and a career-best score from Ishant Sharma allowed the visitors to declare on 438 for eight.
A fine century from Michael Burgess, the second of his career, helped Sussex to a formidable first-innings score against Leicestershire before Colin Ackermann’s unbeaten half-century led a spirited reply.
Burgess and Ishant Sharma compiled a partnership of 153 for Sussex’s eighth wicket, batting through the second morning of the Specsavers County Championship Division Two clash without being parted.
Burgess, who began his career at Leicestershire, was first to his 50, twice hitting left-arm spinner Callum Parkinson over midwicket for six as he sought to accelerate the scoring rate.
India Test bowler Sharma was equally positive as he registered a maiden first-class half-century, leaving his previous career-best score of 31 well behind.
Sharma, who has played 81 Tests and 80 one-day internationals for his country, clearly relished his battle with Leicestershire’s own international bowler Mohammad Abbas. The Pakistan seamer was convinced he had Sharma leg before on 34, but other than that neither batsman gave a chance as the partnership passed three figures.
Sharma was finally dismissed for 66, attempting to loft off-spinner Ateeq Javid for a straight six but failing to clear Gavin Griffiths at long-off.
Burgess had a fortunate escape on 98, pulling a delivery from Parkinson to midwicket where Michael Carberry got both hands to the ball above his head but could not hold the chance. He went to his century off 146 balls, hitting five fours as well as the two maximums, before Sussex captain Ben Brown declared.
Buoyed by his success with the bat, Sharma then made an early breakthrough with the ball when he trapped Leicestershire opener Paul Horton leg before with a full delivery.
Carberry, defending with purpose and real determination, and the in-form Ackermann saw off the new ball but Sharma returned to have Carberry adjudged leg before, half-forward to an inswinger.
Sussex should have had a third wicket when Ackermann turned a David Wiese delivery straight to midwicket but Luke Wright, looking into the sun, failed to hold a straightforward chance.
Shama was happy to register his best score with the bat – but admitted he was more pleased with his efforts with the ball.
He said after the match: “I think I got my highest previous score in a Test match, so I’m pretty happy – I wanted to do as well as I could for the team.
“Every bowler loves to have a bat, and in internationals you don’t get that many opportunities, especially for India, so I was looking forward to having an opportunity.
“I didn’t get nervous when I got close to 50, I wasn’t really thinking about it, just staying in my space.
“My main job is to take wickets, so I was probably more pleased about that.”
Leicestershire batsman Ackermann said: “It was a hard battle out there, they bowled really well with good skill, always making you play.
“There was a bit of turn to the left-handers, but nothing too threatening. For tomorrow it will be pretty good, and we need to take it session by session and hopefully bat all day.”