Durham 223 (Trevaskis 88) and 169 for 0 (Dickson 110*, Lees 50*) trail Sussex 538 (Pujara 202, Rizwan 79, Alsop 66, Haines 54, Clark 50, Trevaskis 5-128) by 146 runs
Dickson completed his century just before the close, off 137 balls with 15 fours, while the more subdued Lees finished with 50 not out.
There are enough cracks on the pitch to encourage the Sussex spinners on the final day. But Durham, who are 146 runs behind, feel they have a good chance of a fighting draw on what is still a good surface.
In the first session, Sussex scored 128 runs without losing a wicket, but Durham bowled well in discouraging conditions against two world-class batters, and there was something heroic about the way Matthew Potts continued to generate pace and bounce bowling downhill from the Cromwell Road end.
The game changed shape dramatically after lunch, when Sussex lost five wickets for 34 runs in nine overs as the slow left-armer Liam Trevaskis followed his 88 runs with figures of 5 for 128.
That still gave Sussex a huge first innings advantage, but the Durham openers batted superbly in the final session to give their side hope.
The day started with Sussex on 362 for 5, with Pujara 128 not out and Rizwan unbeaten on 5. Durham probably suspected they were in for a hard time when Pujara rocked onto the back foot and punched the first ball of the morning for four. The India Test batter scored just eight runs in the opening 45 minutes and it was Rizwan who was the busier of the two, scoring 36 by the time the pair had put in fifty. There were scares. Rizwan was almost run out by Dickson at point when he was 36 and Pujara, on 140, was close to being caught at first slip. But, mostly, it was sublime batting from both batters who proved their true worth in a young and depleted Sussex side.
At lunch – which came ten minutes later than scheduled because 13 overs had been missed on the second day – Sussex had reached 490 for 5, a lead of 267, with Pujara 186 and Rizwan 74. The 150-partnership, which coincided with the side reaching 500, came off 149 balls but four runs later Rizwan, pulling hard against Matt Salisbury, was brilliantly caught by Trevaskis at deep square-leg.
Delray Rawlins, badly in need of runs, got off the mark with a slogged six over midwicket but, pulling, was bowled for 12. Two overs later Pujara, venturing down the wicket to Trevaskis, was stumped. He had faced 334 balls and struck 24 fours. It didn’t last much longer. Henry Crocombe was caught at slip third ball and George Burrow was lbw to the second delivery he received. But the last session belonged to Durham.