Davies helps Surrey maintain push for quarter-final
Surrey 203 for 2 beat Sussex 185 for 5 by 18 runs
Surrey held their nerve in a high-scoring contest before a 5,500 sell-out crowd at Whitgift School to beat Sussex by 18 runs in the Friends Life t20 South Group.
Steve Davies top-scored with a brilliant 99 not out from just 56 balls in Surrey's 203 for two, adding 105 with captain Rory Hamilton-Brown, who hit a 36-ball 51. Davies hit two sixes and 15 fours in his man-of-the-match performance.
The Sussex reply was launched thrillingly by Luke Wright, who smashed five sixes and eight fours in a cavalier 72 from a mere 31 balls. However, when he was caught at long-on off the bowling of Chris Schofield in the 10th over the Sussex chase lost its spark.
Ben Brown made a valiant 68 from 52 balls, with four sixes of his own, after adding a Sussex record 109 for the first wicket with Wright. However, Matt Prior was out for just 4, top-edging a sweep to deep square leg, and Lou Vincent laboured 19 balls for his 14 as Sussex fell short despite reaching the 15th over all but level with where Surrey were at that stage.
Chris Nash hit both the fifth and sixth balls of the 19th over for six, but even that late burst off Chris Tremlett still left Sussex needing 23 from the last over and it proved too much. Spinners Schofield and Zafar Ansari were both impressive for Surrey, who also fielded tigerishly in defence of their total on a compact ground which made almost any target achievable.
Surrey's innings began in spectacular fashion with Jason Roy clubbing the first ball, bowled by off-spinner Ollie Rayner, over long-on for six. Roy also hit the fifth ball for six, with an even bigger hit, but on 18 he was foxed by a slower delivery from Chris Liddle and lobbed up a catch to Rayner at mid-on.
Davies was also away quickly, leg-glancing the first ball he faced, from Wayne Parnell, to the long leg boundary, and a beautiful extra cover four off Liddle showed Davies was in excellent form despite a relatively quiet record so far in the competition.
After five overs Surrey were 44 for one and Hamilton-Brown, after taking a while to get going, swung a slower ball from Luke Wright over wide midwicket and onto the tiled roof of the striking brick pavilion. Davies' half-century arrived from 29 balls and a six off Liddle was later followed by another maximum, this time over extra cover off Umar Gul.
Hamilton-Brown had helped Davies to put on 105 in 11 overs for the second wicket when he drove over a ball from Nash and was bowled after advancing down the pitch. Davies, on 94 when the last over started with Maynard on strike, heaved Parnell's third ball wide of long-on for four but, having taken a single off the next ball, failed to get the strike back as Tom Maynard flicked the penultimate delivery over square leg for six.
Maynard, who finished unbeaten on 29 from 18 balls, led a charmed life as he was dropped three times - on three, 13 and 14 - as another 66 runs were added for the third wicket in just over six overs.
Gul and Parnell, Sussex's two overseas fast bowlers, conceded 85 runs between them from their four-over stints as Surrey sealed an important victory as the battle for a quarter-final place hots up.