Jofra Archer and David Wiese shared a record ninth wicket stand of 127 for Sussex against Northamptonshire to give Sussex some hope at Wantage Road and extend the match into a final day.
When bad light curtailed play, the visitors were 382 for 9 with a lead of 128.
At 246 for 8 and Sussex still eight runs away from making Northants bat again, the match was nearing a conclusion - but after Archer was dropped at deep square by Simon Kerrigan on 15, he and Wiese ensured Northants would not cruise to a three-day win and presented them with a little fourth-inning chase.
It was an extraordinary chanceless stand that simply featured determined batting, good stroke-making and positive running. The only real aggression came as Archer stepped down the wicket to slap Rory Kleinveldt through midwicket on his way to fifty in 80 balls - his fourth of the season - and Wiese’s lofted drive off Kerrigan that cleared the Lynn Wilson stand. His half-century came in 55 balls including another six off Kerrigan but after a break for bad light he was trapped lbw by Luke Procter for 61. Archer went through to a career-best unbeaten 74.
Until that partnership - the highest of the match and beating the previous record of 109 set in 1921 at Hove - Sussex were sliding to a demoralising defeat having lost 4 for 20 in 36 balls mid-way through the afternoon.
The visitors had actually settled into their second-innings well with a stand of 84 between Angus Robson and Chris Nash as conditions appeared to ease before Robson was caught at slip after Kerrigan, the left-arm spinner, switched to bowl over the wicket into the rough outside the right-hander’s leg stump.
Robson’s 72 was the 28th first-class half-century of his career but he has made only two centuries and showed understandable frustration at again failing to convert a good start into three figures.
His dismissal preceded a collapse that appeared to end any hope of Sussex setting a serious target. Kleinveldt returned to nip a delivery back into the middle and off stumps of Luke Wright before another full ball angled in trapped Ben Brown plumb lbw for a second-ball duck.
Chris Jordan fell lbw to a slider from Kerrigan before a Richard Gleeson yorker won another lbw decision, this against Ollie Robinson after a breezy 20. When Azharullah took out Nash’s off stump with a ball that kept low after a well-made 66, the game was sliding to a conclusion, only for Archer and Wiese to come up with an incredible stand.
Wiese said: “We’re a team who do bat quite deep and this is a pitch where if you can get in it’s gets easier. Jofra is naturally aggressive and I like to get on with things too and counter-punching has given us a bit of momentum going into the fourth innings. We just wanted to get a lead and then with a bit of weather about, fourth day pitch, you never know."