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Azeem Rafiq impresses as match heads for draw
Azeem Rafiq provided Yorkshire with a major positive after they were frustrated by a flat wicket and stubborn Sussex batting on the final day of their LV= County Championship match at Arundel.
Yorkshire’s hopes of securing the victory that would send them clear on top of Division One were all but ended by their failure to take early wickets and put Sussex under presuure.
Resuming the final morning on 21 without loss, still trailing by 133 runs, they comfortably progressed into a 49-run lead on 203-2 as the match meandered towards an inevitable draw.
But what problems Sussex did encounter were caused by Rafiq, playing his first championship match of the summer while Adil Rashid is away on paternity leave, who impressed after being given a long bowl by captain Andrew Gale.
Rafiq claimed 1-72 from his 23 overs, breaking up Sussex’s opening stand and then taking a smart catch at leg gully to end their 110-run second wicket partnership.
The Barnsley-born off-spinner was introduced in the 17th over of the morning and struck in his third over when Chris Nash, who had progressed to 53, edged to Adam Lyth at slip pushing forward defensively.
He could have claimed a second wicket with Luke Wells, then on 19, giving a sharp chance to wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow that he failed to take shortly before lunch.
Yorkshire did claim their second breakthrough, but it was not until mid-way through the second session when Rory Hamilton Brown got an inside edge to Adam Lyth’s part-time spin and was superbly caught by Rafiq at leg gully.
Wells progressed to an unbeaten 74, while Matt Machan was unbeaten on six at tea with both sides appearing to settle for a draw.
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