Sussex fall to energetic Notts
Sussex Sharks’ reign as Friends Provident t20 champions is over after they crashed out in the quarter-finals at the hands of Nottinghamshire Outlaws.
Notts had reason to be disappointed with what was widely seen as a marginally below-par 141 for nine at Trent Bridge, but they produced a bowling and fielding display of considerable vigour to restrict Sussex to 128 for seven in reply.
The upshot was an ultimately comfortable 13-run win in front of a jubilant home crowd, many of whom can look forward to a trip to the Rose Bowl for finals day on August 14.
The only disappointment for Notts is the fact that the semi-final onwards will not be played at this venue, for they have lost just one of nine Twenty20 matches here this season.
Sussex, meanwhile, will look back on a campaign that began so promisingly with eight wins from their first nine games yet ended in ignominious fashion; this defeat was their seventh in eight matches.
Notts’ victory was well deserved. Though their performance was far from polished – they batted fitfully after a blistering start and dropped three catches – they utilised conditions better than Sussex under floodlights that aided the seamers more the longer the game went on.
Darren Pattinson profited to the tune of 3-17 from three overs, but Steven Mullaney played arguably the most crucial role with figures of 4-0-18-0 with his medium-pace cutters. It won him the man of the match award.
Slow left-armer Samit Patel went for just 20 runs from four overs, echoing the impact of Sussex captain Michael Yardy, who earlier claimed 4-22 and did not concede a boundary.
While Mullaney and Patel played a similar role to Yardy and Sussex leg-spinner Will Beer by drying up the runs mid-innings, neither side was helped by a misfiring middle and lower order.
The key difference was that Notts had the cushion of a rapid start, for which Ali Brown can take great credit.
No-one bettered his 31 off 16 balls in terms of fluency after Sussex invited Notts to bat, although the Outlaws were also grateful for a more patient run-a-ball 36 from Matthew Wood.
Brown, having seen Yasir Arafat bowl Alex Hales for nine, propelled them past 50 inside six overs.
He struck four glorious fours through the off side and two successive sixes off his legs before having his off stump uprooted by Chad Keegan, who had come in for much of the punishment.
Thereafter Sussex’s spinners asserted their control, despite there being only a hint of turn on a surface that kept all the bowlers interested.
Patel was bowled via a bottom edge as he made room to Yardy, whose quicker ball accounted for Mullaney after David Hussey who, in an attempt to arrest a stalling run-rate, heaved Chris Nash to Beer on the midwicket fence.
Wood batted sensibly until he was comfortably run out trying to pinch a ridiculous single to Murray Goodwin at backward point.
From a potentially perilous 98 for six, Notts were thankful to set a testing target, although Arafat ensured it was no more than that with three wickets in two overs en route to figures of 4-34.
Chris Read’s 20 was the most useful of the lower-order contributions, but he picked out Yardy at wide long-on moments after Graeme White had sliced to deep cover. Ryan Sidebottom swung the last ball of the innings to long-on.
The first half of Sussex’s reply was similar in many ways as Nash overcame the loss of Luke Wright, who skied to mid-on as he charged recklessly at Darren Pattinson, to shepherd the visitors to 64 for one in the 10th over.
However, his departure was the first of three wickets to fall in the space of 3.5 overs, during which time only 14 runs were added.
Nash, whose 22 spanned 33 balls, and Ed Joyce were lbw sweeping Patel and White respectively, sandwiching Yardy’s embarrassing run-out.
The skipper was left stranded mid-pitch after Goodwin changed his mind over a single to short third-man, the second time in as many t20 games there has been a mix-up between the two most senior players in the side. At least this time there was no verbal send-off.
Goodwin battled in vain to keep Sussex afloat, but was dropped twice before he was superbly held by Hales running to his left from deep midwicket, by which time Andrew Hodd had drilled Sidebottom to extra-cover.
Sussex’s fate was as all but sealed when Arafat lifted Pattinson back over his head. Mullaney made good ground from long-off to take a smart catch on the move.
His impassioned roar and salute to the crowd said everything about how much this game meant to Notts.