Spitfires succumb to Sharks defeat
Spitfires succumb to Sharks defeat

Vitality Blast leaders Kent Spitfires lost their maximum record when they were outplayed by Sussex Sharks at Hove.

The Sharks, who themselves are unbeaten in the competition, moved to second place in the South Group table with this emphatic victory by nine wickets with four overs remaining.

The Sharks, chasing 155, got off to a fine start when Luke Wright and Phil Salt powerd 38 runs off the first four overs before Wright was bowled by Adam Milne with the last ball of the fifth over for 24 off 18 balls.

Sussex were looking strong at 81-1 at the halfway stage, with Salt leading the charge with an unbeaten 40.  But in the final stages even Salt’s destructive batting was overtaken by Laurie Evans, who hit Fred Klaasen for 16 in three deliveries.

Evans finished with 65 not out from 35 deliveries, with six fours and three sixes, while Salt’s unbeaten 63 from 44 ball included six fours and two sixes.

Jofra Archer, keen to prove his fitness for the second Ashes Test against Australia at Lord’s, returned for the Sharks and so did Chris Jordan, replacing Reece Topley, who was not 100 per cent fit.

Archer, who will also play for Sussex 2nd XI in a three-day match against Gloucestershire at Blackstone, starting on Tuesday,  went for 20 in his first two overs.  But Jordan broke through for the Sharks in the third over when his off-cutter hit the top of the dangerous Zak Crawley’s off-stump.

Daniel  Bell-Drummond responded by hitting Jordan for successive sixes over square-leg as Kent raced to 52 after five overs before some tight bowling by Tymal Mills, who dismissed Ollie Robinson and Heino Kuhn in successive overs,  and Rashid Khan, who bowled Bell-Drummond with a googly for 50, gave the Sharks some control in the middle overs.

When Archer returned to bowl the 17th over, with the Spitfires 130-5, he conceded just three runs. And in the next over Mills dismissed the dangerous Mohammad Nabi for a 29-ball 43.  In his final over, Archer conceded just five runs and had Milne caught in the deep by Phil Salt to finish with figures of 1-28 from his four overs.

Phil Salt (Sussex) :  “It was a great statement of intent.  We’re playing good cricket and getting into some really good habits.  The boys are looking really strong.  The batters are coming off, the bowlers are coming off and we’re looking a really good team at the moment.  The catching was also excellent.

“We came off at the end of the first innings and we knew we’d had a good first half.  But we had to go out there and back it up and that’s exactly what we did.  I’m always learning and tonight I was very satisfied with the way I played. ”

Kent head coach Matt Walker:  “We weren’t at our best, unfortunately, today.  I don’t want to make any excuses.  Maybe it was a hangover from the huge adrenalin rush of the other night. We weren’t at our best and they were.  That’s what happens if you come up against a good side in T20 cricket.

“We didn’t get quite enough runs.  They have a very good bowling attack.  They have serious skills in their ranks.  They made it very difficult for us and we lost wickets at the wrong time.  They bowled really, really well and we didn’t get enough momentum going into the last four or five overs.  And then they have real power hitters at the top of the their order, they came off and in the end it was a bit of a stroll for them.

“We don’t want to over-analyse it.  We’ll take it on the chin and bounce back.”

THE TURNING POINT:  The slower-ball bouncer from Tymal Mills which fooled the rampant Mohammad Nabi when Kent were still capable of a big score.

SHOT OF THE MATCH: Laurie Evans’ six over cover-point off Fred Klaasen to reach his fifty as he took 16 runs off the first three balls

THE UNSUNG HERO: England cricket boss Ashley Giles, for allowing Jofra Archer to play in this match to the delight of a capacity crowd.

WHAT’S NEXT: Sussex travel to Bristol to play Gloucestershire, while on the same day Kent are at home to Beckenham.