Sussex prevail in rain-reduced contest
Sussex 177 for 4 beat Somerset 216 for 7 by 17 runs (D/L method)
Holders Sussex Sharks kept their hopes of a third successive 40-over title alive thanks to a brilliant innings from skipper Mike Yardy which handed Somerset their first defeat of this seasons Clydesdale Bank 40 competition. The Group A leaders looked to be in an impregnable position when they made 216 for 7 from 20 overs in a rain-reduced Horsham contest which did not start until 4.45pm.
When legspinner Murali Kartik took two wickets in his first over, Sussex were 74 for 3 after seven overs and behind on Duckworth-Lewis calculations, Luke Wright having earlier holed out off seamer Mark Turner. Chris Nash was bowled by Peter Trego in the next over and it looked all over for the hosts - but Yardy had other ideas.
In steady drizzle and worsening light he took the attack back to Somerset with eight fours and three sixes in his 66 from just 30 balls. None of the visitors' attack were spared and Yardy found the ideal foil in Joe Gatting, whose 25 off 18 deliveries contained three boundaries and an upper-cut six off Alfonso Thomas.
Together they hammered 91 in just seven overs and when umpires Neil Mallender and Jeremy Lloyds decided conditions were too bad at the end of the 15th over Sussex had won by 17 runs under Duckworth-Lewis. Somerset still lead the group but Sussex might sneak into the semi-finals as the best-runner-up providing they can win their last two games.
Such a scenario looked unlikely earlier after Somerset had raced to 145 for 1 from 12 overs after Yardy had put them in. Openers Marcus Trescothick and Craig Kieswetter put on 102 for the first wicket with Kieswetter making the most of a reprieve on one when he was dropped by Murray Goodwin at mid-off.
Kieswetter made 45 from 26 balls with four sixes and three fours and the attacking tempo was maintained by Trego who was out the ball after reaching 50 from 22 deliveries with six fours and three sixes. Trescothick set himself to bat through the innings but when he was third out in the 15th over for 67, made off 36 balls with nine fours and three sixes, Somerset lost their way and a further four wickets fell in the remaining overs.
Luke Wright picked up three wickets for 41 runs and Monty Panesar two for 33 but Sussex also dropped two more catches. Ed Joyce got the reply off to a good start with an expansive 35 off 18 balls including six fours and although Kartik looked to have made the decisive intervention for Somerset, England man Yardy and Gatting had other ideas.