Steven Finn took six wickets but Matt Prior's century helped Sussex to a dominant position on day three of their opening LV= County Championship fixture against Middlesex at Hove.
Prior made a punchy, if somewhat fortunate, 125 from 138 balls, which included 19 fours and one six as he made a perfect start to his campaign to be reinstated as England wicket-keeper for the first Test of the summer against Sri Lanka at Lord's in June.
He was dropped late on the first day, and twice more when the match resumed on day three - Adam Rossington and James Harris the guilty parties.
Prior put together two key partnerships - 106 with Matt Machan (38) and 90 with wicket-keeper Ben Brown (44) - while Finn, who took his wickets in batches, was largely the only threat on a placid pitch.
Such was Finn's solo effort that he claimed his six scalps consecutively, including that of Prior, and was the only Middlesex bowler to take a wicket on day three.
England's selectors, including his Director of Cricket Angus Fraser, will be delighted with his return of 6/80.
But in between Finn's bursts, Sussex's lower middle order and tail flurished, with James Anyon making 50 and number 11 Jon Lewis wielding his axe for 35.
With just one day remaining to survive, odds would have been marginally in favour of the draw as Middlesex began their second innings 281 behind, but the loss of Sam Robson to Steve Magoffin for just one left them reeling.
Chris Rogers and Dawid Malan calmed nevers however, putting on an unbeaten partnership of 48 to see Middlesex safely to the close.