Sussex choke semi-final opportunity
Kent 216 beat Sussex 202 by 14 runs
Sussex missed the chance to qualify for the semi-finals of the Clydesdale Bank 40 at Hove when they were beaten by Kent by 14 runs.
A win would have taken Sussex through to the last four but now they will have to avoid defeat to Middlesex at Lord's on Monday to make sure. They were cruising towards their target of 217 at 76 without loss after 10 overs, before they lost four wickets for seven runs in three overs.
Just before the collapse, Darren Stevens had both openers, Ed Joyce and Chris Nash, dropped by Martin van Jaarsveld off successive deliveries. Sussex failed to make the most of their reprieves Joyce, who had dominated the opening stand with a 34-ball innings of 49, was caught behind off Stevens and in the next over Van Jaarsveld, anxious to atone, ran out Lou Vincent.
Stevens had Nash lbw with a delivery that nipped back, and Sussex were 83 for four when Murray Goodwin sliced Adam Ball to the finer of the two backward points. Michael Yardy and Joe Gatting again turned the game towards Sussex with a fifth-wicket stand of 50 in nine overs.
But Gatting was run out by James Tredwell for 34, Ben Brown was caught behind for just one, and Yardy walked down the wicket and was stumped for 23. Against tight Kent fielding, and some clever off-spin bowling from Adam Riley, the run chase was too much for the late order, even though Wayne Parnell hit an impressive 40.
Kent had won the toss and elected to bat on a pitch with some nip and bounce. Chris Liddle broke through in the second over when he pushed one across Joe Denly and had him caught behind for two. Daniel Bell-Drummond, opening in place of the injured Rob Key, produced some eye-catching cover drives in his 28-ball 30, but he was too close to the ball when he cut Liddle to Gatting in the covers.
The key Kent innings came from the in-form Azhar Mahmood, whose 58 from 53 balls included eight fours and a six. He was out when he tried to hit Monty Panesar to leg and got a leading edge but Kent were reasonably satisfied at 120 for three at the halfway stage of their innings.
Then their remaining key players failed to fire. Stevens was lbw to a quicker delivery from Yardy for just 10 and Van Jaarsveld was caught at long-off for 31 when he tried to push up the scoring rate.
That was the first of seven wickets to fall for 65 runs, as Yardy and Parnell each finished with three wickets. Kent, all out for 216 to the last ball of the 40th over, were second favourites at that stage before fighting back with the ball.