Wells still going well

Lv County Championship

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Luke Wells made 96 as Sussex closed in on Warwickshire's first-innings total in an even contest at Edgbaston

Opener Luke Wells continued his excellent start to the season with a polished 96 as Sussex kept LV= County Championship defending champions Warwickshire at bay on day three at the BrightonandHoveJobs.com County Ground.

The 22-year-old left-hander scored a career-best 208 on a similarly flat pitch at the Kia Oval last week and looked like adding a century today before he was yorked by Boyd Rankin to fall four runs short.

Warwickshire plugged away throughout with Rankin, in his first appearance of the season after 10 weeks out with a foot injury, the pick of their seam attack with figures of 3-60.

But a desperately slow pitch has inhibited both sides and Sussex were able to reach 416 for seven at the close in response to Warwickshire's 453 and a draw looks the certain outcome with a day to go.

In front of England selector Geoff Miller, Matt Prior briefly raised the tempo after lunch with a quickfire 42 and Ben Brown made an unbeaten 82 - his third half-century in four first-class innings.

But, like their opponents, Sussex struggled to get their run-rate much above three an over.

The morning session yielded just 89 runs with Rankin, who used his 6ft 8in frame to get some bounce out of the pitch, taking two wickets in 17 balls to briefly unsettle Sussex.

Michael Yardy edged the third ball of his spell to slip for 32 then Wells, who had faced 217 deliveries in four and a half hours at the crease, was beaten for pace by the Irishman and lost his off stump.

Prior predictably went for his shots either side of lunch, hitting Jeetan Patel's off spin for three successive boundaries on his way to 42 from 40 deliveries before he was caught behind trying to run a wide delivery from Chris Wright down to third man.

While Prior played with freedom it was hard graft for the other Sussex batsmen.

Ed Joyce was dropped by wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose off Rankin down the leg side with just two runs to his name and the Sussex skipper laboured for 125 balls over his 42 before driving Tom Milnes tamely to short mid-on.

Rory Hamilton-Brown was pinned in front having made 18 to earn Chris Woakes belated reward for his consistency then Rankin returned to the attack after tea to claim his third wicket when Chris Jordan wafted to slip for 16.

Sussex were still 93 runs behind at that stage with their tail exposed but Brown, playing in this game as a specialist batsman, batted with increasing confidence and closed on 82 not out, having faced 143 balls with seven fours.

His eighth-wicket stand with James Anyon, unbeaten on 19, is so far worth 56.

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