Sussex kept alive their slender chances of progressing in the NatWest T20 Blast with a convincing eight-wicket victory over Surrey at Hove on Thursday.
Sussex had gone into the match bottom of the south table with just one victory from eight matches. But they built on a fine bowling display by Tymal Mills to tear into the Surrey attack with such force that, chasing a target of 149, they got home with 6.3 overs to spare.
Openers Chris Nash and Stiaan van Zyl brought up the 100 in only the seventh over with Nash racing to his half-century off just 24 balls with seven fours and three sixes.
Van Zyl started more slowly but then made up for lost time, hitting eight fours and two sixes in his 21-ball 52. By the time Surrey finally broke through, in the ninth over, the Sussex the opening pair had put on 120 and the match was effectively over.
Nash was out in the following over, lbw to Gareth Batty for a 36-ball 64. But by that time Sussex had to score at just over two runs an over.
Sam Curran’s two overs went for 31. Stuart Meaker bowled just one, but it was mauled for 22 runs, while Moises Henriques’ solitary effort cost 24.
Surrey had been disappointed with their score of 148-8, especially after Aaron Finch had crashed three boundaries off the opening over from Danny Briggs.
But Finch, beaten for pace, gloved Mills to Nash at slip off the second delivery of the second over. And Mills struck again in his next over when Jason Roy, who had hit his previous, slower delivery straight past him for four, skied to Laurie Evans at point.
The best innings was played by Henriques, playing his first match for Surrey since breaking his jaw in three places after an horrific collision with team-mate Rory Burns at Arundel two years ago.
Henriques hit seven fours in his 31-ball 41 before skied Will Beer to Nash at deep extra-cover. After that the best knock came from Ollie Pope, who played a perfect scoop shot for four on his way to an inventive 34 from 23 balls. But when he was sixth out at 142 in the 18th over, caught behind off Chris Jordan, Surrey were unable to finish their innings on a high note.
Tom Curran was out in the next over and Surrey’s last four overs brought just 19 runs. Mills was the star man in the Sussex attack. Returning to the side after missing the previous two fixtures with injury, he had figures of three for 20 from his four overs.
Sussex captain Ross Taylor said: “Nash and van Zyl were fantastic, and they have only been an opening partnership for a short time. They played outstandingly well against one of the leading sides in the competition. We are also a different side when Tymal Mills is playing. He took three very important wickets. There are only a few players in the world who has the impact that he has.”
Sussex coach Mark Davis said: “This was the most complete performance I’ve seen our team have for a very long time. We were outstanding with the bat. It was strong hitting, not slogging. With Tymal we live on a day to day to day basis. But he is someone we want to keep fit. Today he showed what he can do when he does play and he really mixed it up very well.”