Ravi Bopara fired a career-best T20 score to keep Sussex’s hopes of reaching the Vitality Blast last eight flickering.

His brilliant 108 from 53 balls helped Sharks beat the Kent Spitfires by 11 runs (DLS) in a rain-affected match at Canterbury on Friday night.

Bopara hit 18 fours and just one six as Sussex posted a massive 228 for seven, Tom Clark getting their next highest score with 47.

Kent were 31 for one in reply after 3.2 overs when heavy rain began to fall and they were set a revised target of 129 from 10 overs via the Duckworth-Lewis Method.

Needing to hit out as soon as play resumed, they lost wickets too regularly to seriously threaten Sussex and finished on 117 for four.

Tymal Mills delivered a tight penultimate over to ease any Sussex nerves.

Bopara said: “I’m pleased (with the century) and for it come now as well.

“I’ve been batting middle order pretty much all my life so it’s just nice because hundreds are hard to come by when you’re batting middle order.

“I always had dreams of getting at least one more and I’m glad it’s come.

“I’m glad it’s come here as well, I was proper up for today.”

It was only Bopara’s second century in his long T20 career.

He said: “I think that’s more to do with the position I bat.

“T20 hundreds are more for openers and number threes.

“It’s not often you get them at five, six where I’ve batted for most of my career.

“You’d have to do it from about 30-odd balls if you’re going to do it from there and I’m not quite capable of that. I’m not big and strong enough!

“The thing with T20 is you can be in a great place and hit three or four great shots and still get out.

“You might hit a really good shot straight to a fielder so it’s never one where you think I’m going to score runs today.

“In a four-day game it’s different, you can think right I’m on today, unless I get an absolute jaffa I’m scoring runs but T20 you haven’t got that control.”

Defeat for Essex means Sussex can still go through if they manage a big win over Gloucestershire at Hove today.

Bopara said: “It’s a long shot and I did speak about that before the game.

“We’re not out of it so let’s turn up today, let’s get to 14 points and let the other two mess it. Let’s see.

“As the competition has gone on, guys have adapted to what I wanted from the start, which is play with more freedom.

“Hit more sixes than the opposition, get more boundaries and if you want to go for wickets as a bowler, go or wickets. I don’t care if you get smacked.

“I think that’s now really taking effect. I don’t need to put too much price on my wicket, I don’t need to put too much price on the overs I bowl.

“It’s a game of luck so you’ve just got to ride it sometimes.”