The Sussex Sharks had captain Cheteshwar Pujara to thank as they picked up their third win in the Royal London Cup, beating Surrey comfortably by 216 runs at the 1st Central County Ground in Hove.
Pujara top scored for the Sharks with 174, as the home side closed their innings with a mammoth 378-6 after losing the toss and being asked to bat first. Surrey, in response, were bowled out for a paltry 162 in less than 32 overs.
Sussex lost both their openers in the powerplay overs with just nine runs on the board but Surrey failed to capitalise on their early momentum, allowing Pujara and Tom Clark to control the innings.
The duo put on a show for the Sussex faithful, smashing the ball all around the park en route to a record-breaking partnership of 205 runs.
This is now the highest partnership for any wicket for Sussex against Surrey in the one-day format and it set the tone for what was to come next.
Clark’s dismissal for a solid 104 did little to derail Pujara’s momentum, as the Indian tore apart the Surrey attack, scoring his second century in a row and adding to his run tally with ease.
The skipper eventually departed for 174, his highest personal score in the tournament, after mistiming a Conor McKerr delivery and being caught by Ben Geddes.
Pujara was given a standing ovation for his incredible batting display and was congratulated by the entire Surrey team as he left the pitch with the job all but done.
Minor contributions from Tom Alsop (22), Delray Rawlins (15) and Danial Ibrahim (15*) propelled the Sharks to a mighty 378-6, the highest total ever made at Hove in the one-day format.
If Pujara performed with the bat, it was Aristides Karvelas’s turn to do the same with the ball. The South African-born speedster was lethal with the new ball, picking up the first four Surrey wickets.
Karvelas knocked over Ben Geddes to begin with and further picked up the wickets of Nico Reifer, Josh Blake and debutant Sheridon Gumbs to leave the visitors teetering at 55-4.
Ryan Patel and Tom Lawes steadied the ship briefly but, when Patel was caught smartly by Rawlins off the bowling of Henry Crocombe for 65, the tide turned firmly in favour of the hosts.
Rawlins himself picked up a few wickets to further dampen Surrey spirits, dismissing McKerr, Nathan Barnwell and Matt Dunn. And even an unbeaten first county fifty for Tom Lawes proved to be in vain as the visitors crumbled to 162 all out.
The Sharks’ win will give them much-needed momentum ahead of a busy week as they face Durham at the Emirates Riverside stadium on Wednesday before travelling to Taunton to take on Somerset at the Cooper Associates County Ground on Friday.
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