Ton-up Wright sends Sharks into semis
Luke Wright and Matt Prior propelled Sussex into the Clydesdale Bank 40 semi-finals at the expense of Kent, who they drubbed by nine wickets at Canterbury.
The second-wicket pair added 152 in 21.4 overs to brush the hosts aside, overhaul them in the table and secure a home tie against Hampshire in the last four.
All was not lost for Kent at the conclusion of the Group C clash, but once Warwickshire’s win at Yorkshire was confirmed their chances of being the best second-placed finishers disappeared.
Wright ended unbeaten on 101 and Matt Prior 78 as the Spitfires’ 210 for five, built around Brendan Nash’s 51 not out, proved insubstantial.
Openers Wright and Chris Nash plundered 23 from the opening two overs of the reply and Sussex continued to score freely thereafter.
The opening stand ended in the ninth over when Nash, driving on the up at Darren Stevens, had his off stump plucked out by one that nipped down the slope and through the right-hander’s gate.
Prior rightly survived a huge fourth-ball leg-before appeal from Stevens, and then another with his score on 16 when sweeping at international team-mate James Tredwell.
Taking the two-paced pitch into account, Wright coasted to a 53-ball half-century with six fours.
Having played himself in, Prior then accelerated with a swept six off Mark Davies and a straight drive over the ropes against Tredwell to post the century stand and reach his own fifty.
The duo took 18 off what proved the penultimate set of six, after which Wright reached his second one-day ton of the summer with a dabbed single to backward point as Sussex won with 10 overs to spare.
Kent opted to bat and made a sticky start on a dry, yet green-tinged pitch; they lost young opener Sam Billings when he edged to Prior, fielding at slip, against competition debutant Steve Magoffin.
Prior’s understudy behind the stumps, Ben Brown, then stood up to the wicket to claim a magnificent catch that accounted for skipper Rob Key, who gloved a lifter from Kirk Wernars.
Sam Northeast flicked across the line of a Will Beer top-spinner to go lbw and Nash called for a second run on a misfield to fine-leg by Magoffin, who picked up to run out Stevens with a throw to the non-striker’s end.
Alex Blake’s penchant for the reverse-sweep finally led to his downfall, caught at short third-man, bringing Nash and Geraint Jones together for a face-saving unbroken sixth-wicket stand worth 57 in 33 balls.
Jones bludgeoned three fours as well as two consecutive sixes off Michael Yardy in his cameo of 37 from 18 balls, while Nash anchored the other end.