Recent Match Report – Sussex vs Kent South Group 2022

Sussex 171 for 5 (Alsop 65*, Wright 43) beat Kent 167 for 7 (Linde 38*, Denly 33, Billings 31) by four runs

Vitality Blast holders Kent have now lost three South Group games out of three after Tom Alsop hit a scintillating 65 not out from 30 balls in his first T20 innings for Sussex.

Alsop, on loan from Hampshire, hauled the Sharks up to 171 for 5 at the First Central County Ground and the home side then ran out winners by four runs as the Spitfires could only reach 167 for 7 in reply.

Kent’s margin of defeat was only as small as it was because George Linde took 22 runs from the final over, bowled by George Garton, including a last-ball six over long-on, to end on a remarkable unbeaten 13-ball 38.

But, overall, Sussex were impressive in the field, with captain Ravi Bopara picking up 2 for 23 from his four overs, and ultimately it was Alsop’s earlier surge with the bat that proved decisive.

The left-hander smashed three sixes and six fours after coming in at No. 5, and it was a first Blast win of the campaign for Sussex following defeats against Glamorgan and Gloucestershire. Kent’s previous two group losses were against Somerset and Essex.

Qais Ahmad was Kent’s best bowler with 2 for 23 with his legspin, but the holders’ reply started badly with Daniel Bell-Drummond bowled for a first-ball duck by a beauty from Delray Rawlins that turned sharply to hit the top of off stump and Zak Crawley out for two from the first ball of the second over, gloving a lifter from Steven Finn to the keeper.

Sam Billings, however, took three fours from the next five balls from Finn and also drove Rawlins’ left-arm spin and Tymal Mills’ thunderbolts for boundaries as he raced into the 20s.

Kent had rallied to 46 for 2 by the end of the six-over powerplay but Billings was deceived on 31 by a yorker from Bopara that hit him on the boot, and the Sharks’ T20 captain struck again in his next over, the 11th, by having Joe Denly caught at long-off for 33 from a low full toss.

A 35-minute rain interruption followed Denly’s demise and, on the resumption, Jack Leaning fell for 15 and Jordan Cox for a 21-ball 29. When Qais, after hitting Finn for six and four, skied a catch off the former England paceman from the last ball of the 19th over, it was left only for Linde to hit out in vain against Garton before the Sharks’ victory was confirmed.

Sussex, asked to bat, struggled to get going at first with just 31 coming from the initial six-over powerplay and the scoreboard reading only 66 for two at the halfway point.

Mohammad Rizwan swung the first ball of the fifth over, Fred Klaassen’s second, straight to Cox at deep square leg to go for 13 and the Sharks managed only three fours in the powerplay.

Luke Wright did his best to get the innings going, lofting Linde’s slow left-arm spin for six over long-off and later adding two more sixes, to long-on off Qais in the next over, the eighth, and heaved again over long-on against the same bowler in the 13th over.

But from the next ball Wright hit Qais to long-off, and his dismissal for a 34-ball 43 left Sussex on 90 for 4. Josh Philippe and Rawlins had also gone by then, respectively skying to extra cover off Linde for 9 and bowled by Matt Milnes for 14, and a score above 150 looked unlikely.

Bopara soon fell too for 5, mishitting Qais into the off side, but Alsop immediately showed his aggressive intent by reverse-hitting Linde for two fours before targeting Kent’s quicker bowlers as 68 runs were plundered from the last five overs.

Matt Quinn was pulled for four and six in the 18th over, Klaassen twice thumped straight for sixes in the 19th while Milnes, after bowling a waist-height no-ball, saw Alsop take advantage of the subsequent free hit to glance to the fine leg ropes – a shot he repeated four balls later as 17 runs came from the final over, which also included a wide.

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