Yasir Arafat has already stamped himself as a key man in this season’s NatWest T20 Blast after his miserly bowling helped guide Sussex Sharks to a 13-run win over Middlesex Panthers at Lord's.
The Pakistan pace bowler blasted two fours from the final two balls to edge Sussex to yesterday's two-wicket opening-night victory over Surrey and this time it was with ball in hand that the 32-year-old proved his worth.
Left with 128 to defend, the Twenty20 expert – who was a key part of the Perth Scorchers winning the Big Bash League in February – returned 1-17 from four overs as Middlesex slumped to two home defeats in the day.
England seamer Chris Jordan played his part too, crashing an important 25 from 20 balls before claiming 1-25.
Steffan Piolet highlighted the Sharks’ grit with 2-15 after Middlesex might have expected to coast home.
The hosts had posted 180 for five only to lose the opening game of the double-header against Essex Eagles, but were unable to replicate that performance with the bat as they were restricted to 115 for six to complete a disappointing day.
Dan Christian and Toby Roland-Jones had turned Middlesex's horror-show morning bowling on its head to dismiss Sussex for 128 from 19.4 overs.
Essex blasted Christian for 29 runs and Roland-Jones for 35 in the Middlesex seam duo's six overs in the morning defeat.
Determined to reverse fortunes immediately, Christian claimed 2-23 and Roland-Jones 3-25 as Middlesex overpowered Sussex's batting line-up.
James Harris also produced a far better display with 2-10 from his three overs.
Luke Wright was first to fall for Sussex as he was bowled by Christian for just one.
Opener Matt Machan looked just about primed to get going when Christian held a fine catch off Harris.
Ed Joyce reached 14 before Ravi Patel had him caught by Malan, and Rory Hamilton-Brown kept up the pace of notching a run a ball only to depart on 15.
Middlesex confirmed their early dominance when Michael Yardy's false shot handed wicketkeeper John Simpson an easy catch off Christian's bowling.
Yardy departed with Sussex 76 for five from 12.5 overs and desperately seeking an anchor point to their innings.
Mindful of the need to accelerate the scoring without delay, Ashar Zaidi immediately forced the issue too far.
Spinner Paul Stirling dismissed Zaidi with his first ball of the match, Sussex's number five batsman out cheaply for 19.
Ben Brown and Jordan put on 39 for the seventh wicket, before Brown holed out to Andy Balbernie off Roland-Jones for 14 from 11 balls.
Sussex's 117 for seven appeared short of the required pace, though, and, when Harris removed Jordan - caught by Joe Denly - the visitors were in dire straits.
Arafat drilled a six in a desperate bid to claw back respectability, only to depart on the very next ball for 10.
Roland-Jones then removed Steffan Piolet for one, caught by Malan, teeing up his side for what should have been a routine run-chase.
Arafat and Jordan tied Middlesex down expertly for the first three overs, leading to Jordan removing Stirling for 13 from 20 balls, caught by Will Beer.
Middlesex laboured to the 10-over halfway point at 51 for one, still hoping to edge cautiously home.
Malan was run out for 23 from 28 balls in the 11th over, though, and Denly made just two from four balls before being trapped leg before by Hamilton-Brown.
Captain Morgan was expected to guide Middlesex home without issue, but instead he was removed by Piolet for 30 from 29 balls, caught by Hamilton-Brown.
At 87 for four from 15.2 overs, suddenly that supposed composed finish started to evaporate.
Balbernie was dismissed for a duck, leg before to Piolet, and Arafat dislodged Christian for 14.
Middlesex slumped to 90 for six with just three and a half overs to play.
Simpson and Rayner batted through, but neither were able to crank up the pace, with Arafat and Jordan closing out Sussex's impressive turnaround win.