Worcestershire 264 and 34-1
Cheteshwar Pujara upstaged Steve Smith and continued a remarkable scoring sequence for Sussex as they took command on day two of the LV=Insurance County Championship match with Worcestershire at New Road.
The India Test star completed his eighth Championship century for his adopted county in just over 12 months from 138 balls – and every time he has passed fifty for them he has gone on to reach three figures.
He overshadowed the contribution on his Sussex debut of Smith with the Australian looking ring rusty when making 30 in his first knock for six and a half weeks since an ODI against India in Chennai.
The 33-year-old was eventually trapped lbw by England Lions pace bowler, Josh Tongue, but any joy felt by Worcestershire at capturing such a big wicket was quickly snatched away from them by Pujara.
He passed 1,500 runs for Sussex in just his 12th match when on 74 and produced another exhibition of his class in a chanceless innings.
Pujara was given excellent support in half century partnerships with Smith and Oli Carter and then 117 in just 20 overs with Fynn Hudson-Prentice accelerated Sussex into a powerful position with a lead of 109.
Ollie Robinson then followed up his seven-wicket haul in the first innings by having Jake Libby caught by that man Pujara at SIXTH slip.
Sussex resumed on 63-1 and were instantly on the back foot after losing two wickets in the opening two overs of the day.
Tom Alsop tried to work Joe Leach to leg and was lbw and Ali Orr, having survived a chance to second slip, perished in the same over from Ben Gibbon when he edged a delivery which left him and was caught behind.
Orr’s dismissal brought in Smith and there was a six-minute delay before he could score while a stem guard was attached to his helmet.
He needed 13 balls to get off the mark when he clubbed a long hop from Gibbon through cover.
A flick to the mid wicket boundary off Tongue took Smith into double figures and then himself and Pujara both collected fours from regal cover drives in the same over from Matthew Waite.
The fourth-wicket partnership was worth 61 when Tongue accounted for Smith lbw with a ball which nipped back into him.
Tongue, who picked up 12 wickets in two matches for England Lions in Sri Lanka this winter, could not contain his delight as he went down on his haunches and clenched his fists at collecting such a prized scalp.
The delivery struck the pad just above the knee roll and looked as if it would have gone on to hit the leg stump although Smith may possibly have survived via “umpires call” had he been able to review.
Gibbon, who worked on a building site for three years before joining Worcestershire last summer, has worked hard on being able to produce telling spells on a consistent basis.
He struck for a second time in dismissing James Coles who aimed an ambitious flick through mid wicket and only succeeded in edging through to keeper Gareth Roderick.
The game was evenly poised at 147-5 shortly before lunch but Pujara took control and completed a 92-ball half century when he pulled Gibbon for his eighth boundary.
He was given good support by Carter in a partnership of 66 until the keeper-batter lost his off stump to a Waite delivery which pitched on middle and took out the off stump after adding 56.
Hudson-Prentice was another able ally for Pujara who went to three figures with a single off Brett D’Oliveira – and his second fifty came from only 46 balls.
The Worcestershire attack came in for heavy punishment after tea with Gibbon conceding 21 runs in an over and the Pujara-Hudson-Prentice century stand occupying just 87 balls.
Waite trapped Hudson-Prentice lbw for 59 with the penultimate delivery before the second new ball was taken.
Ollie Robinson, fresh from his seven-wicket haul on day one, had licence to attack and raced to 33 from 21 balls before he lofted Leach to long on.
Tongue returned to end Pujara’s excellent knock by having him caught behind for 136 off 189 balls and Leach wrapped up the innings in the next over with Harry Crocombe lbw.