By Matt Somerford
Sussex Sharks will bid to keep their slim hopes of reaching the NatWest Blast T20 quarter-finals alive when they host Glamorgan at the BrightonandHoveJobs.com County Ground tonight.
The Sharks must win their final three games of the season – and hope other results go their way - although they face a tough ask with the top three in the South Group lying in wait.
Tonight’s clash will be their last at home and standing in their way are a Glamorgan side who have bucked the odds to sit third in the table.
The Welsh county have only ever progressed out of their group in two of the 11 Twenty20 tournaments, but are on course to reach the quarter-finals after some memorable away wins.
They ended a 10-year hoodoo at Taunton early last month, beat Hampshire at their Ageas Bowl fortress and are fresh from a last-gasp win over Surrey at the Kia Oval last Friday night.
Glamorgan have never beaten Sussex in a Twenty20 at Hove, and were on the end of a Matt Prior century in 2010 as the Sharks hit a record 239 for five.
The visitors’ improved form has been spearheaded by openers Jim Allenby and Jacques Rudolph, who have quite literally led from the front, and again they loom as Glamorgan’s match winners.
Allenby is the third-highest runscorer in this season’s Blast, cracking 450 at an average of 56.23, while Rudolph has helped himself to 310 runs at 38.75.
Sussex seamers Yasir Arafat and Stefan Piolet have both taken 14 wickets this season – three behind tournament leader Jeetan Patel – and their duels with the Glamorgan openers could be vital.
Sussex have weapons of their own at the top of the order with England all-rounder Luke Wright their best with the bat this term, having hit 266 runs.
The hosts have been hit by injury, though, and will still be without skipper Ed Joyce, Rory Hamilton-Brown, Michael Yardy, Jon Lewis and James Anyon.
Chris Jordan, who almost got the Sharks’ home in their nail-biting defeat to Kent Spitfires last time out, is absent after re-joining England’s squad ahead of the second Investec Test against India at Lord’s.
Glamorgan have called up young off-spinner Kieran Bull to replace Will Bragg in their 13-man squad while veteran Murray Goodwin is set to face his former employers.