Vilas century helps Lancs press home advantage
Lancashire followed their good work with the ball yesterday to completely dominate day two of this Specsavers County Championship match against Sussex with a superb batting display following an outstanding century by Dane Vilas plus fine contributions of 88 from Rob Jones and 57 by Glenn Maxwell.
Vilas declared just before the close with Sussex 15-0 in their second innings and a mammoth 352 runs behind.
A century partnership in the final session between Vilas and Steven Croft hammered home Lancashire’s advantage following the good work earlier when Jones had enjoyed 90-run plus stands with both Maxwell and then Vilas after the Red Rose side started the day on 149-1 leading by 22 runs.
Keaton Jennings twice leg glanced Sakande for four in the opening over of the morning but then fell to a stunning catch by Delray Rawlins. Having made 65 the left handed batsman cut a wide delivery from Mir Hamza fiercely but then watched in astonishment as Rawlins leapt high to take an outstanding one-handed catch at backward point.
Haseeb Hameed fell lbw to David Wiese for 11 but Glenn Maxwell and Rob Jones steadily built up Lancashire’s lead reaching a half century partnership off 89 balls just before lunch.
The pair continued in similar vein after the break, Maxwell reaching his fifty off 74 balls and going on to make 59, his highest first-class score since December 2017 fourteen innings ago, before top edging a hook off Abi Sakande that was caught by Phil Salt running back from third slip to end a 93-run partnership.
Jones moved to fifty for the fifth time this season from 90 balls as Lancashire relentlessly increased their lead during the afternoon session.
Jones looked to be in great touch, becoming the second Lancashire batsman to pass 500 Championship runs for the season, and seemed destined for his second century of the summer. But after adding 94 with Vilas for the fifth wicket he was bowled for 88 in the last over before tea when playing back to a Will Beer delivery that kept a touch low.
But Vilas and Croft combined to extend Lancashire’s lead remorselessly past the 350-run mark in the evening session with Vilas reaching a fine century off 124 balls. The Lancashire captain is in a rich vein of form at the moment, passing 700 runs for the season during his innings and not dismissed for less than 72 in his last five innings.
Vilas finally called a halt when Croft was out for 31 after lending great support to his skipper in a 123-run partnership in 26 overs for the sixth wicket.
That left Sussex four overs to face and they had reduced the deficit by 15 runs at stumps.
It was a tough day for the Sussex bowlers who strove throughout to try and check the run scoring without being able to call on the injured Chris Jordan, and their batsman now face a big task tomorrow.
“The last two days we’ve really done well,” said Rob Jones.
“The previous two games we’ve not started as well as we wanted. We had a good meeting after Northampton and came out here wanting to set the tone really well.
“To bowl them out, and then bat really long and as well as we did today was great.
“Hopefully it’s set us up to win this game.”
Jones contributed to two significant partnerships and taking about his innings said:
“It’s about contributing to the team, and it was a bit of a different role for me playing their spinners.
“It was great batting with Glenn (Maxwell). He knows a lot about the game, and about batting against spin. He’s a very experienced cricketer, so to build a partnership with him was lovely.
The team take a break from four-day cricket after this game for T20 and Jones added:
“We’ve been really focused on this block of Championship cricket.
“We know what we need to do to get back up to Division One and hopefully winning this game will give us the chance to do that. We’re not counting our chickens yet on that, but if win the game it will be great.
And looking ahead to tomorrow’s third day Jones said:
“Hopefully the wicket will break up a little bit more.
“When I faced the new ball it went up and down a bit. One more day on it and hopefully it will do a bit more.
“It might spin more, and today it seemed that if you bowled a bit more slowly, the ball spun a bit more. That’s the speed that Parky bowls and hopefully he can deliver again tomorrow.”
Photos: Barry Mitchell
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