Nash, Mills upstage Gayle in Sussex romp
Sussex 222 for 3 (Nash 112*, Wright 83) beat Somerset 174 (van der Merwe 59, Jayawardene 51, Wiese 4-38) by 48 runs
Chris Gayle's return to the NatWest T20 Blast was overshadowed by a superb hundred from Chris Nash as Sussex beat Somerset in a one-sided contest at Hove to make it two wins from two in the South Group.
Nash made 112 not out from 64 balls, his first T20 century, to help his side to 222 for 3 then Gayle found the explosive pace of left-armer Tymal Mills - who had previously set out his stall to target Somerset's big-name overseas signing - too hot to handle and was yorked for 5 by a delivery timed at 93mph.
Roelof van der Merwe made a defiant 59 and Mahela Jayawardene a classy 51 but Somerset were never in contention and were bowled out in the last over for 174 to lose by 48 runs.
Nash and captain Luke Wright laid the platform for Sussex's second 200-plus total of their Blast campaign with a stand of 156 in 14 overs for the first wicket with Nash making the most of two fielding lapses. He was dropped on nought off the second ball of the match by James Hildreth at backward point and again in the fifth over by Jayawardene, having scored 17.
Wright did not hit the first six of the innings until in the seventh over but it signalled an onslaught by the Sussex batsmen, who plundered 90 off the next eight overs. Nash was first to his half-century but he was soon overtaken by his partner, who eventually found his timing in his first game of the season after recovering from back and wrist injuries.
Wright's 83 came from just 39 balls and included five sixes and eight fours as he harnessed a strong wind and targeted the Sea End boundary. It was a surprise when he played on to the legspinner Max Waller and Sussex lost Ross Taylor in the next over, caught at long-on off a mistimed drive.
But Nash pressed on and Matt Machan gave him excellent support in a third-wicket stand of 51 from 28 balls. He reached his hundred in the 19th over by hitting Jamie Overton over long-on for six before gliding the next ball to the backward point rope. He finished with 13 boundaries and three sixes from 64 balls faced. Overton took 2 for 45 but the Somerset attack were guilty of bowling too short.
An asking rate of more than 11 runs an over was always going to test Somerset and they suffered an immediate blow when Ajmal Shahzad bowled Jim Allenby for a duck with the first legitimate delivery of the innings.
But the big moment came in the next over when Mills, with the strong wind at his back, began to bowl consistently at more than 90mph. Gayle top-edged his second ball over the slips for four but when he stepped away trying to hit the next delivery through the off side he was bowled, much to the delight of a 5,500 crowd.
Sussex's other seamers complemented Mills' raw pace. South African David Wiese picked up 4 for 38 on his debut and Shahzad ended Somerset's faint hopes when he had Jayawardene caught at long on for 51 from 39 balls in the 11th over.