Sussex Sharks thwarted by Kent in thriller at Hove

Hove: Kent Spitfires (195 for 5) beat Sussex Sharks (194 for 7) by 1 run.

England’s Zak Crawley made an impressive 67 as Kent Spitfires held their nerve to beat Sussex Sharks by one run in a Vitality Blast thriller at Hove.

The Sharks, who were chasing 196, seemed to be on course for victory with two needed off two balls but Ravi Bopara (18) gloved a short ball from Fred Klaassen to the keeper and Ollie Robinson was run out looking for a single to mid-on that would have tied the game.

It was a spirited fightback by Kent, who looked beaten when Sussex needed nine runs off seven balls with David Wiese going well on 38.

But the South African holed out to long off from the last ball of the penultimate over and although Klaassen began the final over with two wides he gave little away thereafter, calmly collecting Daniel Bell-Drummond’s throw and beating Robinson’s desperate dive to make his ground to spark jubilant celebrations.

Crawley top scored in Kent’s 195 for 5 after they had been put in. It was a competitive total but Phil Salt and Luke Wright launched the chase in typically explosive fashion with 58 in just 4.2 overs.

Salt blasted 33 from just 13 balls as he peppered the short leg-side boundary including an extraordinary first ball by Grant Stewart that cost 13.

Salt hit a no-ball for six, the free hit was a wide and Stewart’s first legitimate delivery was drilled to the extra cover boundary.

There was no let-up even after Salt holed out to long on. Wright smashed 40 from 20 balls with eight fours before mistiming a pull off Tim Groenewald and Sussex were 81 for 2 after the powerplay, having seemingly broken the back of the chase.

Delray Rawlins made 30 off 23 balls and although Sussex still needed 45 at the start of the 16th over Wiese seemed to have tilted the balance their way by taking 20 off Klaassen’s third over.

Kent hung in there – and even the donation of 19 extras, including 15 wides, didn’t prove costly.

Earlier, Crawley had made the most of being dropped on five in the second over by Rawlins to hit six fours and two sixes from 49 balls before falling in the 13th over to Tymal Mills, aiming to hit the left-armer over the short leg-side boundary again.

Crawley had put on 55 from 33 balls with Bell-Drummond for the first wicket before Bell- Drummond (22) was caught at backward point off George Garton in the last over of a powerplay which brought Kent 59 runs.

Sussex dragged the scoring rate down during the middle overs thanks mainly to the accuracy of left-arm spinner Danny Briggs who conceded just 18 runs in his spell and picked up the wicket of Heino Kuhn (4) in his first over.

Kent reached halfway on 95 for 2 and although the next five overs only produced 35, Alex Blake and Jack Leaning accelerated in the final five.

Blake, who had shared a third-wicket stand of 68 from 47 with Crawley, hit 41 off 28 balls with two sixes and three fours, although he was also dropped on 21 by Robinson.

Garton eventually pinned him in front in the 17th over but Leaning swatted Mills for three leg-side sixes in four balls during the 19th over on his way to 37 from 13 deliveries.

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