Leicestershire 108 (Patel 48, Karvelas 4-14) and 221 for 3 (Ackermann 103*, Amin 61*) need a further 278 runs to beat Sussex 262 and 344 for 9 dec (Coles 63, Scriven 4-55)
The Hove pitch has certainly flattened out after 20 wickets fell in the first four sessions and Leicestershire were scuttled for 108 in their first innings. But it would still be a considerable achievement were the Foxes to deny Sussex a win that would kick-start their own promotion bid. The new ball, due after 16 overs on the final day, will be crucial in shaping the outcome.
Leicestershire will take encouragement from the fact that they chased 389 to beat Yorkshire at the start of the season while Sussex know all too well how much Ackermann loves batting at the 1st Central County Ground, where he made an unbeaten 277 last season.
They had declared their second innings on 344 for 9 in the over after lunch – setting a target of 499 – and soon made inroads into the Leicestershire top order.
Indian left-armer Jaydev Unadkat pinned Sol Budinger in the fifth over and Ari Karvelas had skipper Lewis Hill smartly taken low down at third slip by Tom Clark in the eighth over to leave the Foxes on 16 for 2. But Rishi Patel and Ackermann joined forces to put on 92 in 21 overs with few alarms. Sussex skipper Cheteshwar Pujara had employed his fifth bowler by the 15th over and four overs before tea offspinner Jack Carson settled into a long, occasionally probing but so far unproductive spell from the Sea End.
Ackermann, who is joining Durham at the end of the season, reached his third hundred of the summer with a single off James Coles and so far he has faced 155 balls, hitting 16 fours. Before the close Henry Crocombe was bowling short to four fielders stationed within 20 yards of each other short on the leg side but Amin relished the battle, reaching his first fifty for the county he has joined for the last four Championship games of the season.
Ackermann, meanwhile, needs another 48 runs to reach 1000 runs for the season – Patel having got to the milestone when he top scored with 48 in Leicestershire’s first innings.
Earlier, Sussex added 90 runs before their declaration and with time on their side there was never any need to take undue risks before setting such a massive target.
James Coles reached his fourth fifty of the season with a six over long-on off Rehan Ahmed, adding 58 with Fynn Hudson-Prentice before becoming one of two victims for the persevering Tom Scriven, who finished with 4 for 55 and took up the slack with Matt Salisbury, who took five wickets in Sussex’s first innings, unable to bowl because of a hamstring injury.
He trapped Coles and Jack Carson with late inswing while Hudson-Prentice was held at second slip by Ackermann off Scott Currie. Sussex declared when Karvelas was run out off the fifth ball of the afternoon session.