REPORT: Sharks beaten on opening Friday night at Hove

Sussex Cricket Board's picture

Luke Wright on his way to 91 from 47 balls at Hove this evening

Luke Wright smashed 91 from 47 balls for the Sharks but the hosts were beaten by Middlesex in the NatWest T20 Blast, at The County Ground, Hove.

Dawid Malan, who only returned to action for Middlesex on Thursday in the 115-run win over Kent having recovered from a broken finger, underpinned a total of 221 for 2 – Middlesex’s highest score in the competition – with a score of 115.

Facing an asking rate of more than 11 runs an over, Sussex were always up against it although a county record fifth wicket stand of 84 in 44 balls from skipper Wright and Chris Jordan kept them in touch and entertained a crowd of 5,000.

But South African quick bowler Kyle Abbott removed both with successive balls at the start of the 17th over and finished with career-best figures of 5 for 14 as Middlesex won by 42 runs, Sussex closing on 179 for 9.

Wright scored at a faster rate than both Malan and Stirling, making 91 off 47 balls with eight fours and five sixes, one of which left a female spectator in the crowd needing minor treatment after she was struck on the head.

But the Sharks still required an unlikely 65 from the last four overs and Abbott, who had dropped Wright on 40, effectively ended the contest when Wright was caught at long on by Nick Compton before Jordan drove the next ball to extra cover.

Abbott took four wickets in eight balls at the end as Sussex’s tail folded and Middlesex wrapped up victory.

Earlier, Malan struck 13 fours and two sixes, one of which landed on the roof of a Ferrari in the car park, in a brutal assault from just 58 balls faced as he and Paul Stirling made full use of a perfect batting pitch.

Stirling followed his 90 against Kent with a blistering 88 from 47 deliveries, including ten fours and four sixes, in a first-wicket stand of 187 from 101 balls. It was the fourth highest first-wicket partnership in T20 history and the second biggest in the domestic competition.

At the halfway stage Middlesex were 100 for 0 before accelerating in the next five overs when they plundered 71 runs. Stirling missed out on a century when he was bowled swinging across the line at Ollie Robinson, who then picked up Eoin Morgan with his next ball when England’s one-day skipper miscued a drive to long off.

None of the six bowlers used were spared but Jordan, who had driven down from Headingley earlier in the day after being left out of England’s team for the second Test against the New Zealand, suffered the most with his four overs going for 47 before he made amends with 35 from 23 balls.

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