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Finch, dropped on one, hits 131* to destroy leaders Sussex

Aaron Finch brought Sussex to their knees Getty Images

Surrey 192 for 3 (Finch 131*) beat Sussex 140 (Salt 74, Dernbach 3-31, Pillans 3-20) by 52 runs
Scorecard

Aaron Finch bludgeoned the fifth T20 hundred of his career against Sussex's star-studded bowling attack to lift Surrey to a second win in as many days.

Finch's brutal 131* - which included several huge blows for six as he took advantage of a flat Hove wicket and a short leg-side boundary - was the dominant innings in Surrey's total of 192 for 3, but it could all have been so different. On one, Finch chipped the simplest of return catches to Jofra Archer, but the chance was put down, and he lived another day.

In response, Sussex were always behind the game. They slumped to 8 for 2 after three overs thanks to an impressive new-ball spell from Sam Curran, and despite Phil Salt's enterprising 72, never managed to get near the required rate.

Jason Gillespie, Sussex's head coach, said: "There were a couple of missed opportunities in the field which went on to cost us which was disappointing, and I didn't think our bowlers adapted quickly enough to the wicket which did a bit for the seamers.

"Having said that it was a very good knock by Aaron Finch, he's outstanding in this format but if you drop him when he's barely got started the chances are he will punish you. But it's only our first defeat after three wins so we'll be fine."

Fresh from a typically destructive 58 at the Oval last night, Finch looked rusty at the start of his innings; on top of Archer's mystifying drop, he was beaten outside the off stump twice in the first five balls of his innings. But after an uncharacteristically sedate start, the clash that defined the game began.

Going into this fixture, Sussex were full of confidence. The first three games of their Blast campaign had produced three wins, and five cheap wickets for their star overseas player, Rashid Khan. Surrey, meanwhile, were hoping their campaign would get going. Two defeats in two were to be expected with a squad missing several star names, and last night's win gave reason for cautious optimism.

This much was evident as Rashid came into the attack. Before tonight, Rashid had bowled eight balls to Finch in his T20 career, and dismissed him twice. But Finch has improved his game against spin no end over the course of eight IPL seasons, and now has a better strike-rate against slow bowlers than any batsman in the world. At least according to the ICC's rankings, this was the world's best bowler against the world's best batsman, in front of a packed Hove crowd.

Rashid won the first battle. Twice, Finch tried to crunch him through the off side; twice, he failed to connect properly, and Rashid started with two dots. Then, his lap sweep only narrowly beat David Wiese at short fine leg, before he knocked a single in a desperate attempt to get down the other end.

But Finch landed the next punch: two firm, hard sweeps in the next over brought a single and a boundary, and Luke Wright withdrew his trump card from the attack in anticipation of a further battle.

In the interlude, Finch started to put his foot down: Chris Jordan was dispatched for a one-bounce four over extra cover, and Danny Briggs was hit out of the attack.

When Rashid returned to bowl the 15th over, Surrey were 117-3 and threatening an explosion. It soon came: Finch crunched a huge six over the hospitality tents at long-on, and milked all the singles he wanted.

The next over, from Wiese, brought two more sixes, before Rashid's return saw another mammoth blow over long-on for six. Rashid and Sussex's confidence was dented; Surrey and Finch were strutting their stuff.

Finch soon had a ton, as some uncharacteristically poor death bowling from Archer and Chris Jordan allowed Surrey to add 47 in the final three overs, and their imposing 192 always looked well above par.

Sussex's reply never got going. Before this evening, Luke Wright and Laurie Evans had made 361 runs between them in six innings; here, they made 0 and 3 respectively. Sam Curran swung the new ball with all the skill and control of the international bowler that he is, and his first two overs were maidens.

Salt played a mature innings in his vain attempts to keep Sussex's hopes alive, but some poor shots by the top order and a failure to build any meaningful partnerships meant that his was a lone hand in a poor showing.

Sussex will not be too concerned by defeat - they still sit top of the South Group - but their efforts with the bat did expose a reliance on their top order. Fine all-rounders though they are, Wiese and Jordan are not top-class number six and seven batsmen respectively, and Jason Gillespie will surely ponder the balance of his side before their next challenge.