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In-form Wright shines again

Luke Wright smashed 81 off 49 balls as Sussex Sharks posted an impressive 202 for three on their way to a 24-run victory over Middlesex Panthers in the Friends Life t20 South Group clash at Lord's.

Dawid Malan hit back with 61 in 43 deliveries but even before he fell, heaving across the line in the 14th over, Middlesex had begun to lose their way.

Neil Dexter blasted 27 off just 10 balls yet it was too little, too late for the hosts, who finished on 178 for eight - which included six penalty runs for Sussex's slow over-rate – as Michael Yardy took 3-30.

After winning the toss, Chris Nash got the visitors up and running with a swept maximum off Tim Murtagh in the third over. Murtagh suffered further punishment a couple of overs later when Wright hit four successive boundaries, including a straight six.

The Sharks were pegged back briefly as Nash, who made 45 off 30 balls, dragged an attempted drive off Adam Voges on to his stumps to make it 84 for one in the 10th.

But, two overs later, Rory Hamilton-Brown brought the hundred up for the Sharks with a sweetly timed four through extra cover off Voges.

Wright then posted a 37-ball half-century in almost identical fashion, off Dexter, before flat-batting Josh Davey back over his head for six.

Wright – whose impressive month had already brought him a first-class best 187 against the same opposition at Lord's, a Yorkshire Bank 40 century versus Kent and a fifty for England in the first NatWest International T20 with New Zealand – was eventually caught at long-on off Murtagh for 81 but Hamilton-Brown, supported by Dwayne Smith, ensured there was no let-up.

Hamilton-Brown scored 47 in 29 deliveries, including a straight six off Gareth Berg, before giving a steepling return catch to Kyle Mills in the final over.

Smith, who had swatted the 34-year-old New Zealander over square-leg for a maximum, finished with an unbeaten 21 off 12 balls, leaving Middlesex needing to better the second-highest total at Lord's in domestic Twenty20 cricket.

Paul Stirling got the Panthers off to a decent start by cover-driving Chris Liddle for six in the third over and was given a life on 28 when he was dropped at extra-cover off Yardy.

Yardy had his revenge as Stirling was caught at wide long-on for 33 and Joe Gatting then pulled off a superb one-handed catch, low to his right, off Will Beer to account for Joe Denly.

Malan celebrated a 37-ball fifty by lifting Beer over long-on for a maximum, although the pressure of needing to score at 10 an over eventually told and he was bowled by Nash for 61 before Voges reverse-swept Yardy to short third-man.

Adam Rossington fell to another good catch, this time by Chris Jordan running in from the midwicket boundary, though not before Dexter had lifted Yardy for a maximum.

The Middlesex captain followed it up with two successive sixes off Liddle in the 17th over to leave his side needing an improbable 56 off 18 deliveries. The departure of Dexter, caught in the deep off Jordan for a whirlwind 27, ended their hopes.

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