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Arafat pulls off stunning win

Yasir Arafat was the Sussex Sharks hero as he hit fours off the last two balls to secure a dramatic two-wicket win against Surrey in their Natwest T20 Blast opener.

Surrey appeared certain to claim a first-up win when Chris Jordan was caught from the second ball of the final over, delivered by Jade Dernbach.

The Sharks were left with an unlikely 15 to get from the final four balls.

Ben Brown cover drove Dernbach’s next ball over cover to thin the equation, but when he could only manage a single from the next ball Surrey were still favourites with tailender Arafat on strike.

The Pakistani showed he is handy with bat in hand, however, with a perfectly-hit drive over cover to the rope from his first ball. Then, with another boundary needed from the final ball, he got lucky as he edged a wild swing to the third-man rope.

The hosts were set a victory target of 172 by their opponents, whose innings had seen Jason Roy and Gary Wilson hit a half-century apiece.

Luke Wright's 56 helped put Sussex in contention and Surrey were left to rue a costly six-run penalty for their slow over-rate in the chase.

After winning the toss, Surrey lost a couple of early wickets, with skipper Graeme Smith and Steven Davies' departures leaving them on 48 for two.

But they then put on 75 for the third wicket thanks to Roy and Wilson, before the former was removed by Chris Jordan's catch off Ashar Zaidi for 57.

Kevin O'Brien's first game back at Surrey was brief, bowled first ball by Zaidi who took 3-32.

Wilson hit an even 50 before his hook at Chris Liddle brought a fantastic catch out of Arafat on the boundary.

Arafat's bowling then accounted for South Africa spinning all-rounder Robin Peterson - who went straight into the squad after his signing was confirmed earlier in the day - as Wright held on.

Surrey's seventh and final wicket came from the penultimate ball of the innings, Azhar Mahmood bowled by Jordan.

Sussex's reply started badly as Matt Machan was caught by Tom Curran off Dernbach in the second over, and they were then 27 for two when skipper Ed Joyce hit Curran to Smith at mid-on.

It became 52 for three when Michael Yardy was ousted by a Peterson catch off Aneesh Kapil, but Sussex then began to pick up some momentum thanks to Wright's partnership with former Surrey man Rory Hamilton-Brown.

It yielded 55 runs, but Wright was then bowled by Curran in the 13th over.

O’Brien then removed Hamilton-Brown and Zaidi from successive balls, the first via a stumping from his Ireland team-mate Wilson.

Sussex were 111 for six at that point and their efforts to make the victory target were disrupted when Chris Nash went down in the middle in the 16th over with an injury.

He was able to continue with the aid of a runner, but was bowled by Mahmood for 21 in the 19th over. 

The six-run penalty was then invoked at the start of the final over, reducing the ask to 16, but when Jordan fell all look lost for the hosts.

But remarkably, they pulled it off as Brown cleared the rope before stepping aside for Arafat’s unlikely rescue act.

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