Leicestershire 68 for 2 (Patel 36*, Ackermann 17*) trail Sussex 262 (Hudson-Prentice 65, Salisbury 5-73) by 194 runs
Sol Budinger fell early for a duck, skying a pull at Ari Karvelas high to midwicket, but Patel continued to impress in what has been a breakthrough season for the 25-year-old former Essex player, who is averaging more than 50, and Leicestershire’s only other wicket to fall was that of Lewis Hill, caught off Tom Haines’ medium pace swingers for 11.
On a hard-fought day the 30-year-old Salisbury brushed off a disappointing new ball spell, when 28 runs came from his first four overs, to take the prized wicket of Cheteshwar Pujara on his return to the attack before lunch and then, in the afternoon, also remove James Coles for 44.
And there was more to come from him at the start of the final session when Salisbury reacted well to hold Hudson-Prentice’s leading edge off his own bowling before dismissing Henry Crocombe lbw for six and Karvelas brilliantly held by a diving Colin Ackermann at second slip for 18.
Leicestershire came into the match in third place in Division Two, 24 points behind Worcestershire but with a game in hand on the county currently in the other promotion position behind near-certain second tier champions Durham.
There were four wickets for Leicestershire’s seamers in an entertaining morning’s session, after they initially saw Haines and Tom Clark get Sussex’s first innings off to a flying start.
Haines, in particular, scored freely and the pair also scampered a number of quick singles to rotate the strike and frustrate the visiting attack, but after the fifty partnership had arrived in the eighth over it was Chris Wright who made the breakthrough an over later.
Clark, pushing forward on 15, was beaten off the pitch and edged low to third slip where Budinger scooped up a good low catch and, in the 10th over, Haines’ 29-ball 39 – featuring eight fours – ended when, after driving Scott Currie’s first and third balls to the straight boundary, he edged another attempted forcing shot waist-high to Budinger.
It was 80 for 3 when Tom Alsop was brilliantly caught by a diving Umar Amin at midwicket for 10 from a solid clip off his toes against Tom Scriven’s medium pace, and a good-sized crowd then saw Indian Test star Pujara settle in with some excellent strokes as the runs continued to flow despite Leicestershire’s early successes.
And the visitors’ decision to bowl first was fully vindicated when Pujara, on 26, was drawn into an indeterminate push at a fine ball from Salisbury and edged low for Ackermann to fall to his left at second slip and take a sharp low catch.
Honours were even in the afternoon session, with Leicestershire taking another three wickets but both Hudson-Prentice and Coles looked comfortable in predominantly cloudy, warm and humid conditions.
Oli Carter went for 16, steering a rising leg-cutter from Currie – on loan from Hampshire for the last three fixtures of the summer – to second slip, but Sussex’s total had moved steadily from 135 to 179 before Coles, who hit seven fours, clipped Salisbury to mid wicket.
Jack Carson also looked disgusted with himself when he too lifted a full delivery on his pads from Scriven to mid wicket to go for five, but Karvelas hoisted Currie into the pavilion for six and Hudson-Prentice completed his half-century just before the tea interval, at which Sussex were 231 for seven.
Hudson-Prentice hit eight fours in his 92-ball effort, spanning almost two and a half hours, but it was Salisbury who had the final word to give Leicestershire the edge going into day two.