Ian Cockbain hit a 33-ball half-century as Gloucestershire beat Sussex Sharks by 13 runs at Bristol to keep alive their hopes of reaching the NatWest T20 Blast quarter-finals.
A match reduced to 15 overs per side due to rain saw the hosts make 138 for seven after losing the toss, Cockbain hitting four fours and three sixes in his 52.
Sussex captain Chris Nash’s decision to field first with more rain threatening backfired as his side ended up batting in near darkness and bowled out for 125 in the final over.
The result took Gloucestershire, who began the campaign with a two-point deduction, level with Sussex on eight points with both counties in striking distance of fourth place in the South Group.
Gloucestershire’s score was built on a second-wicket stand of 69 in seven overs between Cockbain and stand-in skipper Alex Gidman after Chris Dent fell early to Lewis Hatchett.
Cockbain hit Hatchett over midwicket for the first six of the game in the fourth over and followed up with maximums off Steffan Piolet and Nash.
— NatWest T20 Blast (@NatWestT20Blast) July 4, 2014
Gidman helped take the score to 81 in the ninth over when well caught above his head on the deep midwicket boundary by Piolet off Will Beer for 22.
Leg-spinner Beer went for only 21 from his three overs in mid-innings and helped stem the Gloucestershire run-rate with two wickets as they slipped to 116 for seven after 14 overs.
Then Graeme McCarter launched a late assault on Hatchett, hitting him for four, six, four off the first three balls of the final over, which ended up worth 20 to the hosts, including a wide.
Yasir Arafat claimed two of the wickets, while Chris Liddle was the most economical Sussex bowler, his three overs costing 19. Will Gidman was 26 not out at the end of the innings.
Sussex suffered an early setback in their run chase when Luke Wright was caught behind for a duck by trialist wicketkeeper Adam Rouse, standing up to seamer Will Gidman.
With the light fading, the visitors looked to face a stiff task. It got more difficult when Luke Wells was caught by the diving Rouse off David Payne for three in the second over.
Nash responded with four, four, six at the start of Will Gidman’s second over, but fell for 25 when cutting David Payne straight to Cockbain at point in the fifth and final over of powerplay, which ended with Sussex 47 for three.
Matt Machan kept Sussex up with the required rate with 28 off 19 balls but, when he was lbw trying to sweep left-arm spinner Tom Smith in the seventh over, Gloucestershire sensed their chance.
— Sussex CCC (@SussexCCC) July 4, 2014
Ben Brown and Beer did their best in gloomy conditions, but Jack Taylor dismissed the former in conceding only five from the 13th over and Sussex required two a ball.
McCarter kept it tight and 16 were needed off the last over from Taylor. Beer was brilliantly caught on the boundary by Hamish Marshall at full stretch above his head for 18 to end Sussex hopes.
Alex Gidman took another fine catch to end the game and Sussex coach Mark Robinson was left to reflect: “T20 is a game that is often decided by inches.
“If Marshall had touched the boundary it would have been six and we would still have had a chance. It was so dark at the end, but T20 is all about entertainment and we have just lost an excellent game of cricket.”
Gloucestershire director of cricket John Bracewell was pleased with the result and said: “We are getting some momentum in the competition because players are fronting up when it matters and we remain in the hunt for a quarter-final place.”