Chris Jordan made amends for running out in-form New Zealander Ross Taylor with a match-winning 45 off 21 balls that contained five mighty sixes to give Sussex only their second NatWest T20 Blast win in eight games.
Jordan had turned his back and refused a run that saw the departure of Taylor – who had scored 370 in nine previous innings in this season’s competition – and left Sussex apparently struggling at 122 for five. But he more than made up for that as he played a major part in helping Sussex add 78 from 34 balls from that point onwards, 66 coming from the last four overs.
Sussex’s innings had ebbed and flowed, and looked at one point as if it had stalled completely, before it caught fire in a hail of six-hitting. That was when Jordan went after the Essex attack with Ravi Bopara and Graham Napier going for two sixes each in an over as Sussex hit 10 in total.
Chasing 201 to win, Essex were ahead of Sussex’s comparative totals until the last four overs, and they had no one capable of matching Jordan’s late fireworks. Essex, losing for the second game in a row, finished 25 runs short with 20-year-old Bangladesh pace bowler Mustafizur Rahman taking four wickets for 23 after only arriving in this country on Wednesday.
Sussex had started well enough with fifty coming off the six power-play overs. Chris Nash needed little help but received a dollop when Tom Westley’s shy from deep point missed the stumps, bounced up awkwardly off a matted wicket, wrong-footing Ryan ten Doschate, and eluding two more fielders as it sped away for a five.
Nash, who had hit Paul Walter for two successive fours through the offside in the first over, was first to go when he scooped Matt Quinn into Browne’s hands at midwicket for a 16-ball 25.
Luke Wright had just got into his stride when he was out. The Sussex captain nudged Lawrence almost out of James Foster’s hands for four and then cleared Westley on the long-on boundary for six. He tried again next ball but the ball dropped short and Westley took the catch diving forward. Wright’s frustration at going for 32 was palpable.
Ashar Zaidi’s first two overs had gone for just 10, but the spinner’s third went for a match-changing 28 as Phil Salt got his measure. Salt moved from 12 to 33 in the space of a seven-ball over with two sixes over the offside boundary, plus two fours in the same area, before Taylor clubbed another maximum from the final ball.
But Zaidi extracted a measure of revenge when he took the catch at short third man, two balls into the next over from Ravi Bopara, that saw the back of Salt for 33 from 19 balls. Bopara also stemmed the flood of runs with just two conceded from his second over.
Bopara claimed his second victim when Westley took another catch on the long-leg rope to dismiss Matt Machan before Sussex lost Taylor, who went for a quick single from the non-striker’s end to Callum Taylor at midwicket only to find Jordan immovable.
Jordan thumped a six to cow corner off Walter and then two more hooked and pulled off Bopara to give Sussex’s innings late momentum. Craig Cachopa also hammered Walter for six and had helped put on fifty for the sixth wicket in three and a half overs before he was pinned lbw by Graham Napier for 18. Jordan, though, kept going and belted two more sixes from Napier’s over.
Essex’s reply got off to a bad start when Browne top-edged Tymal Mills to Rahman at fine leg in the second over before Lawrence and Westley set about righting the ship. They had the fifty up in the fifth over with Lawrence depositing Jofra Archer over long on and Westley taking two boundaries in three balls off Mills.
The second-wicket partnership was worth 47 in little more than five overs when Archer trapped Westley lbw.
Lawrence landed a second six over long-on off spinner Will Beer. But he was third man out, having just past his previous highest T20 score, when he played all around a delivery from Beer and was lbw for 36 from 26 balls.
Zaidi had started slowly, but clobbered Beer through midwicket for four and then lofted him for six slightly squarer on the leg-side. But the former Sussex player was controversially run out for 18 when he appeared to be obstructed by the bowler Mills as he turned for a second run. The two players collided, Zaidi looking as if he barged into the fielder, and after a short debate the umpires upheld their decision.
Bopara followed, hitting high but not too far as Wright pouched the catch at mid-on to give Rahman a first wicket. Crucially, that 16th over only went for two runs and Essex were still 66 from their target. Rahman took two wickets in three balls when he rearranged the stumps of James Foster and Callum Taylor, and then had ten Doeschate caught by Mills at backward point.
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