Two-in-two puts Sussex in the mix
Sussex 110 for 4 (Nash 74*) beat Middlesex 107 (Beer 3-22, Hatchett 3-23) by six wickets
In the ultra-competitive South Group a couple of wins can make a big difference. Before they travelled to Canterbury last week, Sussex, finalists as recently as 2012, had won three of their previous 18 games. They have now won two in a row and have gone from second-bottom in the section and up to fourth place and the last quarter-final spot.
A six-wicket win achieved with 23 balls to spare over a Middlesex side who remain bottom and with little chance of the knockout stages will not necessarily get their supporters rushing to the bookies to back Sussex for glory at Edgbaston in August.
They are likely to be without Matt Prior, Chris Jordan and Mike Yardy for most of the qualifying stage and their best batsman in the format so far, skipper Ed Joyce, rested a hamstring.
But successive wins is a step forward after five successive defeats and there was much to commend in Sussex's performance. They took 10 wickets, just as they had against Kent last week, fielded well and then one of their openers, in this instance Chris Nash, anchored the reply.
Nash, leading the side in Joyce's absence, made 74 off 53 balls with five fours and three sixes, the last of them a straight hit off James Harris to seal victory at the start of the 18th over.
His clean ball-striking and adroit placement against the spinners certainly put Middlesex's dismal batting in perspective. Although Ryan Higgins' promising innings of 31 was ended by a ball from James Anyon which scuttled through, too many of their batsmen played injudicious shots.
Hove groundsman Andy Mackay felt it was a 160-180 pitch and Middlesex would have batted first had they won the toss. There was certainly some pace and carry for the quicker bowlers as Eoin Morgan discovered when he touched a lifter from Anyon which wicketkeeper Ben Brown held above his head.
There was turn too with Will Beer's first ball bowling Dawid Malan out of the rough. The legspinner picked up 3 for 22 and when Hatchett returned at the end to pick up two more scalps the left-arm seamer had competition best figures of 3 for 23.
Sussex lost their talisman Luke Wright early in the reply, lbw on the walk to Harris, and a promising start by Harry Finch was ended by a direct hit from cover by Higgins after a mix-up with Nash. But Rory Hamilton-Brown played sensibly in support of his captain and it was still daylight when Nash struck the winning blow.
Was it a good T20 wicket? That is debatable, but a crowd of more than 5,000 enjoyed themselves, particularly the hundreds of youngsters allowed extra time by the early finish to enjoy their own games when the flooded onto the outfield.