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Yardy keeps Sussex hoping

Michael Yardy

Michael Yardy helped Sussex pull off an improbable victory courtesy of a sensational unbeaten 66 off just 30 deliveries

Reigning champions Sussex maintained their hopes of a third successive 40-over title thanks to a brilliant innings from skipper Michael Yardy which handed Somerset their first defeat of this season’s Clydesdale Bank 40.

Group A leaders Somerset looked to be in an impregnable position when they made 216 for seven from 20 overs in a rain-reduced Horsham contest which did not start until 4.45pm.

When left-arm spinner Murali Kartik took two wickets in his first over Sussex were 74 for three after seven and behind on Duckworth-Lewis calculations, Luke Wright having earlier holed out off Mark Turner.

Chris Nash was bowled by Peter Trego in the next over and it looked all over for the hosts, but Yardy had other ideas.

In steady drizzle and worsening light, he took the attack back to Somerset with eight fours and three sixes in his unbeaten 66 from just 30 balls.

None of the visitors' attack were spared and Yardy found the ideal foil in Joe Gatting, whose 25 not out off 18 deliveries contained three fours and an uppercut six off Alfonso Thomas.

Together they hammered 91 in only seven overs and when umpires Neil Mallender and Jeremy Lloyds decided conditions were too bad at the end of the 15th over Sussex had won by 17 runs under Duckworth-Lewis.

Somerset still lead the group but Sussex might sneak into the semi-finals as the best-runner-up if they can win their last two games.

Such a scenario looked unlikely earlier after Somerset had raced to 145 for one from 12 overs, having been asked to bat by Yardy.

Openers Marcus Trescothick and Craig Kieswetter put on 102 for the first wicket, Kieswetter making the most of a reprieve when he was dropped on one by Murray Goodwin at mid-off.

He smashed 45 off 26 balls with four sixes and three fours and the attacking tempo was maintained by Trego, who was out the ball after reaching 50 from 22 deliveries with six fours and three sixes.

Trescothick set himself to bat through the innings but when he was third out in the 15th over for 67, made off 36 balls and containing nine fours and three sixes, Somerset lost their way and a further four wickets fell in the remaining overs.

Wright picked up 3-41 and Monty Panesar 2-33 but Sussex also dropped two more catches.

Ed Joyce got the reply off to a good start with an expansive 35 off 18 balls, including six fours, and, although Kartik looked to have made the decisive intervention for Somerset, Yardy and Gatting had other ideas.