Sussex on verge of Division Two title

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Yasir Arafat & Andrew Hodd

Yasir Arafat removes James Middlebrook, the third of his five victims, as Sussex's win put them on the verge of the Second Division title

Sussex all but clinched the LV= County Championship Division Two crown after completing an innings win over Northamptonshire at Hove.

Pakistan fast bowler Yasir Arafat took the 39th five-wicket haul of his first-class career as the visitors’ second-innings resistance ended an hour and 15 minutes after lunch on the third day.

They were bowled out for 237, giving Sussex victory by an innings and 19 runs - their eighth win of the season.

For Sussex to miss out on the title, nearest challengers Glamorgan have to win their final two games against Surrey and Derbyshire, and even then Sussex would only need three points from their remaining match at Worcestershire next week to be crowned champions.

Northamptonshire had resumed on 48 for two but lost a couple of quick wickets to Corey Collymore to undermine their hopes of a fightback.

David Sales got a thin edge on an attempted pull to be caught behind with just 15 runs added and Rob Newton was yorked after he had earlier pulled a short ball from James Anyon for a six that shattered a press box window.

Opener Mal Loye and skipper Andrew Hall staged a recovery of sorts, but when Anyon switched ends he trapped Hall leg before in the second over of his new spell.

Loye then found a reliable partner in James Middlebrook and either side of lunch they put on 67 in 19 overs for the sixth wicket.

Sussex skipper Murray Goodwin brought back Arafat and his post-lunch spell broke the back of the innings as three wickets fell in 11 balls without addition to the score.

Middlebrook was bowled off his pads for 26 and in the next over Loye, whose 72 was only his second half-century of the season, was bowled by a beauty from Monty Panesar which turned sharply to beat his defensive push and clip the off-stump bail. Loye faced 163 balls and hit 13 fours.

In his next over Arafat pinned David Murphy for a duck and, although Northamptonshire’s tail offered some resistance, it was only a matter of time before Sussex wrapped up the win.

Arafat picked up his fifth wicket en route to 5-74, his best figures of the season, when Jack Brooks drove to mid-off.

Panesar wrapped up the win when last man Lee Daggett mis-cued a drive to mid-off. The spinner was two short of 50 wickets in his first season at Hove.

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