Luke Wells was denied a hard-earned century when he ran out of partners.

But his battling 98 not out at Durham might just have sparked Sussex’s Championship campaign into life.

Wells guided his side from 71-7, adding 131 for the final three wickets to allow their hosts a first innings lead of just 22.

Ollie Robinson struck early in Durham’s second innings but the hosts are 53 runs ahead going into day three.

Wells survived a run out chance on eight to play what could be a crucial innings.

He said: “Obviously it’s very pleasing to score runs when they really matter.

“It was difficult for us out there. They bowled well with the new ball.

“They have some skilful operators, who we’ve seen before. It was nice to keep us in the game.”

Wells accepted he had a little good fortune.

He added: “I don’t think anyone has got a big score at this ground without having luck at some point.

“Everyone knows that it does do a lot for the bowlers up here.

“Nearly running myself out was not very smart.

“Then a big drive that would have been a very good catch in the slips it went really quickly. Nobody got a hand on it.

“After that I managed to knuckle down and batted for the tail for a while, which is something that I don’t do often.

“It was disappointing not to get a hundred, but it was nice to get that batting point to get equity in the game.”

James Weighell and Chris Rushworth had Sussex in disarray, their mishaps including another nought for Ben Brown.

Wells shared partnerships of 48 with Chris Jordan, 40 with Ollie Robinson and then 43 with Mir Hamza. His 98 came off 188 balls and included 14 fours.

Scores: Durham 224 (Robinson 4-53) and 31-1, Sussex 202 (Wells 98*).