Davies teaches Sussex a lesson
Steven Davies top-scored with an unbeaten 99 off 56 balls as Surrey kept alive their hopes of Friends Life t20 quarter-final qualification with an 18-run defeat of Sussex at Whitgift School in Croydon.
Surrey remain sixth in the South Group, but are only a point behind second-placed Somerset and today's opponents in third.
Davies was left stranded just one short of a well-deserved ton as Surrey made 203 for two, adding 105 with captain Rory Hamilton-Brown, who hit a 36-ball 51. Davies hit two sixes and 15 fours in his man-of-the-match performance.
The Sussex reply was launched thrillingly by Luke Wright, who smashed five sixes and eight fours in a cavalier 72 from a mere 31 balls.
However, when he was caught at long-on off Chris Schofield in the 10th over, the Sussex chase lost impetus.
Ben Brown made a valiant 68 from 52 balls, with four sixes, after adding a Sussex record 109 for the first wicket with Wright.
However, Matt Prior was out for just four, top-edging a sweep to deep square-leg, and Lou Vincent laboured 19 balls for his 14 as Sussex fell short despite reaching the 15th over all but level with Surrey at that stage.
Chris Nash hit both the fifth and sixth balls of the 19th over for six, but even that late burst off Chris Tremlett still left Sussex needing 23 from the last over and it proved too much.
Spinners Schofield and Zafar Ansari were both impressive for Surrey, who also fielded tigerishly in defence of their total on a compact ground which made almost any target achievable.
Surrey’s innings began in spectacular fashion with Jason Roy clubbing the first ball, bowled by off-spinner Ollie Rayner, over long-on for six.
Roy also hit the fifth ball for a maximum, with an even bigger hit, but on 18 he was foxed by a slower delivery from Chris Liddle and lobbed up a catch to Rayner at mid-on.
Davies was also away quickly, leg-glancing the first ball he faced, from Wayne Parnell, to the long-leg boundary, and a beautiful extra-cover four off Liddle showed Davies was in excellent form despite a relatively quiet record so far in the competition.
After five overs Surrey were 44 for one and Hamilton-Brown, after taking a while to get going, swung a slower ball from Wright over wide midwicket and onto the tiled roof of the striking brick pavilion.
Davies’ half-century arrived from 29 balls and a six off Liddle was later followed by another maximum, this time over extra cover off Umar Gul.
Hamilton-Brown and Davies' second-wicket alliance spanned 11 overs when the former drove over a ball from Nash and was bowled after advancing down the pitch.
Davies, on 94 when the last over started with Tom Maynard on strike, heaved Parnell’s third ball wide of long-on for four but, having taken a single off the next, failed to get the strike back as Maynard flicked the penultimate delivery over square-leg for six.
Maynard, who finished unbeaten on 29 from 18 deliveries, led a charmed life as he was dropped three times – on three, 13 and 14 – as another 66 runs were added for the third wicket in just over six overs.
Gul and Parnell, Sussex’s two overseas fast bowlers, conceded 85 runs between them from their four-over stints as Surrey sealed an important victory as the battle for a quarter-final place hots up.