Worcs fight back at Hove
Mushtaq Ahmed grabbed his 78th victim of the season to break a dogged opening stand of 79 between Worcestershire’s Daryl Mitchell and Stephen Moore as defending champions Sussex were made to work hard for wickets at Hove.
Sussex, who must win to have a chance of overhauling leaders Lancashire, achieved their first objective by securing maximum batting bonus points in piling up an imposing 532.
Relegated Worcestershire, needing 383 to avoid the follow-on, offered some stern early resistance and were 96-2 when bad light cut short the second day.
Mitchell and Moore frustrated Sussex by taking their side through to tea and had negotiated 29 overs when veteran former Pakistani Test leg-spinner Mushtaq broke through.
The 37-year-old, who has taken a remarkable 447 wickets in nearly five years with Sussex, sent down a googly to Moore and had him caught at short leg off an inside edge.
Former Sussex target Moeen Ali followed only five runs later by being pinned in front by left-arm swing bowler Jason Lewry for a single.
Mitchell (36 not out) and former England man Graeme Hick (seven not out) were defending stubbornly when they were offered the light 75 minutes before the close, and a restart was not possible.
Sussex, who have not lost a four-day match at Hove for three years, batted on until 50 minutes after lunch with Robin Martin-Jenkins (99) and Chris Liddle (53) sharing a county record ninth-wicket stand against Worcestershire.
The pair enterprisingly added 120 in 18 overs with Martin-Jenkins agonisingly falling just a single run short of the fourth first-class century of his career.
The 31-year-old all-rounder, who was dropped twice, compiled a dozen fours and a six over long-on off spinner and acting captain Gareth Batty before he was well caught at point trying to force medium pacer Mitchell off the back foot.
Martin-Jenkins had enjoyed his first let-off on 60 when dropped by Ray Price running back from mid-on off Mitchell and later, on 96, he skied Batty to mid-off where Nadeem Malik put down a running catch.
Liddle, playing in only his second championship match of the season, was also dismissed by Mitchell having thumped 11 fours in making a career best 53 from 62 balls.
Sussex resumed on 287-4 and skipper Chris Adams, feeling the effects of a painful finger injury, had advanced to 74 when he became one of three victims for Kabir Ali.
Adams drove Ali to the mid-wicket fence and then lifted him for six over square leg before edging a catch to wicket-keeper Steven Davies attempting to drive the next delivery.
Sussex also lost Ollie Rayner and Mushtaq before lunch with Rayner edging Kabir Ali to slip and Mushtaq being caught at the wicket making room to cut Malik.