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Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Nerveless Wheal crushes Sussex run chase

Hampshire 134 for 9 beat Sussex 133 for 8 (Taylor 46*, Nash 32, Griffiths 3-33, Wheal 2-17) by one run
Scorecard

A low-scoring classic at Hove saw Sussex Sharks snatch defeat from the jaws of victory as a floundering middler order saw them make a mountain out of a low target set by Hampshire. A simple chase of 135 from 20 overs took a turn when Sussex's batsmen only managed five runs from three overs, in which they lost the wickets of Matt Machan and Chris Jordan.

That meant 23 needed off the final three overs, which soon became 17 off 11 when Dawson caught Craig Cachopa at deep third man off the bowling of Gavin Griffiths. The silver lining of the wicket meant Ross Taylor found himself back on strike. Three fours in the remaining five balls of the penultimate over meant a manageable five off the final six.

With three needed from the final two deliveries, Taylor went to lap Brad Wheal around the corner, only for the ball to pass him and leg stump through to the keeper. No wide was signalled and, with a cracking yorker, Wheal sealed a one-run win for Hampshire. Sussex Sharks skipper Luke Wright, while questioning the wide decision did not shy away from the brutal truth that Sussex lost this match through their own inexcusable carelessness.

Even Matt Prior, watching on from the stands, could not bite his tongue when Sussex's middle order woes were put to him, suggesting that he was prepared to help - although stopping short of saying in quite what capacity.

While Griffiths returned three figures, it was 19-year-old Wheal that influenced where this game was headed. It was not just his ability to send the ball down consistently above the 85mph mark but his knack of second-guessing the batsmen to return 14 dot balls. Bowling Luke Wright for just nine and then trapping Machan in front just as he looked to steer the game away from Hampshire were marquee wickets.

Having chosen to bat, Hampshire posted an under-par target with a batting effort that went some way to explaining why they were rooted to the bottom of the South Group before the match. It makes for unsettling viewing. In an era when the phrase "Moneyball" has been bastardised to the extent that you could get away with applying the phrase to a petrol station meal deal, they were one of the few sides that appreciated the analytics and application of T20 theorems. This will be the first season in the last eight in which they have not made it out of the group stages.

Liam Dawson, morphing from one of English cricket's "most improved" to "most valuable" white ball cricketers, cast as many disapproving looks to teammates as boundaries. Miscommunication with Tom Alsop and Shahid Afridi saw both run out embarrassingly, leaving him to pick up the pieces.

Former Barbados under-19 Jofra Archer made his T20 Blast debut and, in his second over, picked up the wicket of Adam Wheater, with Chris Jordan taking the catch. It was Jordan who spotted Archer and recommended that Sussex make use of his British passport and bring him to Hove. Judging by the chain and chunky golden watch, Jordan may accessorise him, too.

When he wasn't encouraging Archer, he was showing him how it's done. Four overs returned two for 14, as Jordan toyed with the tail when he finished his set with the 17th and 19th overs. His part in the game did not end with the ball, as he made an appearance in the 16th over of the chase, in at No. 6, as Sussex began to get stage fright.

Three sixes - Taylor hitting Tino Best into the flats out at midwicket and Machan taking two in a row off Dawson - gave Sussex a degree of insurance. So, too, did Chris Nash's 32 off the top of the innings. But a game that by Wright's estimation should have been won in the 18th over slipped through their fingers in embarrassing fashion.

It has been a strange season for Sussex: one which started with talk of an all out attack on the sole promotion spot out of Division Two and now, in the midst of the county summer's own silly season, has them assessing how many eggs to place in each basket. Promotion is still not out of the question. But the uncertain weather and sheer effort needed to win four day games on down-trodden tracks means they will have to embark on an unheard of run in their final 10 matches to take them back to the top division.

In the short term, staying in the hunt for T20 success means placing everything on beating Essex Eagles, Surrey and Glamorgan - all of whom sit above them in the group. They are still in control of their own destiny to a point but have lost all wiggle room.

Sussex 2nd innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
1st35LJ WrightCD Nash
2nd3CD NashPD Salt
3rd25LRPL TaylorCD Nash
4th46LRPL TaylorMW Machan
5th1LRPL TaylorCJ Jordan
6th8LRPL TaylorCraig Cachopa
7th14LRPL TaylorWAT Beer
8th1LRPL TaylorJC Archer