Ben Brown finished the Sussex first innings on 133 not out, but Leicestershire’s batters have pulled them back in contention with two centuries on day two in the LV= Insurance County Championship.
On a day shortened by seven overs by bad light, Hassan Azad finished unbeaten on 122 - his first hundred since April - but Lewis Hill’s 109 not out - his third of the summer - came only a week after his 113 against Derbyshire in what has become comfortably the best season of the 30-year-old’s career.
The two have shared an unbroken stand of 183 to take Leicestershire to 291 for two, trailing by 68.
Earlier, Ben Brown finished unbeaten on 133 after five and a half hours at the crease and veteran Leicestershire seamer Chris Wright took six for 94 as Sussex closed their innings on 359 for nine, with Fynn Hudson-Prentice, who had been injured on Sunday, unable to complete his innings.
The former Derbyshire all-rounder was struck on the left hand by former Sussex seamer Abi Sakande and his third appearance for his new county will be his last of the season after x-rays revealed a break that will require surgery.
Sussex resumed on 310 for four but a double-wicket maiden by Wright sparked a collapse that saw the last five Sussex wickets fall for 25 runs.
Tom Hinley’s pull was plucked out of the air impressively by Ed Barnes before Jack Carson, playing away from his body, was caught behind.
Soon afterwards, Wright bowled Henry Crocombe and Sean Hunt with consecutive, almost identical deliveries that struck off stump. Joe Sarro kept out the hat-trick ball but quickly chipped Barnes to short mid-wicket.
Wright has 46 wickets for the season, well over twice as many as any other Leicestershire seamer. His latest haul was the fourth of five wickets or more this season and the 17th of his career.
In reply, Leicestershire lost Sam Evans first ball in the opening over as he nicked to second slip but, on a good batting surface, Azad and George Rhodes added 103 in just under 25 overs before Sussex skipper Tom Haines beat the latter’s defensive push to clip the off stump with his medium pace.
Azad’s first 52 runs came off 74 balls with eight boundaries but was content to bide his time thereafter, especially as Hill - batting at four with skipper Colin Ackermann on paternity leave - was eager to seize the initiative at the other end.
Hill accelerated after tea, racing to a 67-ball half-century with six fours in seven overs before slogging the left-arm spin of Delray Rawlins for consecutive sixes over deep midwicket.
Azad completed his second century of the season from 187 balls soon after picking up a 10th four but Hill was catching him fast, reaching his from 116 balls with 11 fours and two sixes.
Following the match Sussex coach Ian Salisbury said: “First and foremost, congratulations to Browny [Ben Brown] on the way he played. He has really stepped up to the challenge of playing at three.
“There are a few tired legs out there. We’ve had a lot of people leave the club, we have a lot unavailable and we are putting a lot on these young lads, I’m aware of that. Yes, they did look a bit tired today but I predict a bright future for them, we will look after them and they are learning.
“Today, we had Fynn [Hudson-Prentice] unable to bowl and Sean [Hunt] just coming back from injury. Henry [Crocombe] has been a Trojan for us all year. Joe [Sarro] struggled a bit today but it is a pretty flat pitch and sometimes you have to say, ‘well played’.”
Leicestershire’s Hassan Azad, who finished unbeaten on 122, said: “We’ve spent a lot of time in the field these last two games but to come back this morning and turn things around as we did makes it feel less draining mentally, because we were in the game.
“Last week it was Sam [Evans] who dug in and got us to a good score and this week I managed to do that job and it’s great when you have different people putting up their hands like that, and with Mr Consistency, Lewis Hill, getting another hundred as well. I’m really happy about the way we’re playing at the minute and hopefully we can take that forward into next year.
“With Lewis playing so well at the other end, it meant that I could go under the radar a little bit and just bat. And I think to have someone timing the ball as well as Lewis was must be a bit demoralising for the bowlers.”
Daniel Bell-Drummond’s finely crafted 82 spearheaded Kent Spitfires to a first Vitality Blast final since 2008 with a 21-run victory over Sussex Sharks.
A 14-player Sussex Sharks squad has been named for Vitality Blast Finals Day at Edgbaston on Saturday.
The Professional Cricketers’ Trust is set to take centre stage on Vitality Blast Finals Day this Saturday, with the Mascot Race headlining the fundraising activities that will be taking place on the day.