Sussex recover to move top
Sussex 165 for 8 beat Middlesex 116 by 49 runs
Sussex Sharks moved to the top of the South Group after recovering from a terrible start to convincingly beat Middlesex Panthers by 49 runs in the Friends Life t20 fixture at Lord's.
The Sharks were 2 for 2 in the second over after Chris Nash and Joe Gatting, who have both struggled for runs in the competition so far, were dismissed for ducks. But solid contributions from their three internationals, Luke Wright, Lou Vincent and Murray Goodwin, allowed them to recover to 165 for 8.
When the Panthers were reduced to 61 for 4 halfway through their reply Sussex were on their way to avenging their only defeat so far at Hove last week.
A well-grassed pitch played better than it looked but Sussex made a dreadful start with Nash bowled by Steven Crook's yorker and Gatting pulling tamely to square leg to give Steve Finn the first of two wickets. But Wright and Vincent revived their side with a stand of 69 from 39 balls.
Wright, Sussex's leading scorer in the competition this season, twice cleared the ropes in his 34 off 18 balls before former team-mate Tom Smith turned one past his defences. Vincent made 44 from 32 and also hit two sixes only to be caught off a top-edged sweep and it was left to skipper Goodwin to make sure Sussex maintained their recovery.
Goodwin scored 48 off 33 deliveries with four boundaries and a six and it was a surprise when he was foxed by Ryan McLaren's slower ball, especially as McLaren's four expensive overs had gone for 43.
The Panthers used seven bowlers but a cameo from Rana Naved ul-Hasan, who made 24 from 14 balls, lifted Sussex to a total which they always looked capable of defending given the quality of their bowling attack.
Middlesex were hampered by the absence of Chris Rogers, who hurt his hand when he dropped Vincent and was unable to bat, and were struggling on 41 for 4 after 6.1 overs.
Paul Stirling cut to point and John Simpson, promoted to open, missed a full toss. Crook carelessly drove at a widish delivery and Dexter gave Monty Panesar a return catch immediately he came into the attack.
A fifth-wicket stand of 64 between Scott Newman and Dalrymple kept their hopes alive but the asking rate was climbing all the time. When left-armer Chris Liddle returned to the attack in the 19th over he finished off Middlesex with three wickets in five balls.
Liddle cleaned up Newman (44) and claimed Anthony Ireland next ball and although Finn averted the hat-trick he soon gave a tame catch to gully. Liddle finished with 4 for 20 and Middlesex had lost for the fifth time in six games.