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Sussex fall short despite late fightback
Sussex’s hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals of the NatWest T20 Blast were extinguished as they lost by three runs to Kent at Hove.
Alex Blake smacked an unbeaten 53 to rescue Kent from 80-6 after 14 overs to make an unlikely 149-9 despite some fine bowling from Will Beer (3-18) and Steff Piolet (1-17).
Sussex slumped to 62-5 in reply after 13 overs and fell short despite some good late hitting from Ben Brown (33), Chris Jordan (37) and Beer (25).
The result saw Sussex slip below Kent to second from bottom in the south division, four points adrift of fourth place Surrey with three matches remaining.
Kent were indebted to Blake for rescuing their innings after some superb bowling from Beer and Steff Piolet had put them in a spot of bother.
Kent had started reasonably well as they reached 45-2 at the end of the batting powerplay with Lewis Hatchett removing Rob Key and Yasir Arafat having Sam Northeast strangled down the leg side.
Sussex really put the squeeze on Kent in the next eight overs though as Beer and Piolet picked up four wickets for just 35 runs.
Beer trapped Fabian Cowdrey lbw in his first over, removed Daniel Bell-Drummond for 34 and picked up the wicket of Sam Billings in his last over to complete figures of 3-18.
Piolet was even more economical with his four overs costing just 17 runs with the added bonus of trapping the dangerous Darren Stevens lbw for just one.
After 14 overs Kent were in trouble on 80-6 but Blake led the counter-attack as the Spitfires plundered 69 runs from the last six overs.
Twenty four of those runs came from one over from Chris Jordan and 14 of them from one ball as Blake smacked a no-ball for six and then launched the free hit over the ropes too.
Blake brought up his second T20 half century in style – off 31 balls with five sixes – by launching over midwicket.
Sussex’s reply got off to a terrible start as Ben Harmison removed Chris Nash and Luke Wells in a double-wicket maiden to leave them 14-2 after three overs.
Luke Wright was given a life when he was put down by Stevens off his own bowling but could not make Kent pay as he was bowled by James Tredwell in the next over for 17.
Debutant Craig Cachopa followed in the next over when he was bowled by Fabian Cowdrey for 11 and when Matt Machan holed out at long-off to the same bowler Sussex were 42-5 after ten overs.
Ben Brown and Chris Jordan kept Sussex in contention by putting on 51 from 32 balls for the sixth wicket with Brown launching Cowdrey for two sixes in the same over.
Sussex’s hopes faded when Brown holed out at deep midwicket off Adam Ball for 33 with Arafat giving a return catch to Tredwell in the next over.
Beer blasted 25 off 12 balls – including three sixes – to bring the equation down to 31 off the final two overs but was bowled by Ben Harmison going for another big hit.
Sussex were left requiring 17 off the final over and Jordan got it down to eight off the final two deliveries by clubbing Mitch Claydon for six but holed out off the next delivery.