Rawlins & Sussex Seal Home Quarter-Final against Lancashire
Delray Rawlins and his Sussex teammates booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Vitality Blast with a four-wicket win against last season's winners, Essex Eagles.
Replying to their hosts' modest total of 136 for 9, Luke Wright's side recovered from 59-5 to claim a victory which was inspired by a partnership of 73 in 10 overs between George Garton and Calum MacLeod.
Garton hit an unbeaten 34, and earlier claimed figures of 4 for 21 as Essex struggled to make progress in the way they wanted.
Paul Walter was the standout for the Eagles, scoring 76 with the help of nine fours and three sixes after arriving with his side 18 for three.
Essex got off to the worst possible start; losing two wickets in the opening over from George Garton without a run on the board. Cameron Delport was caught behind by Phil Salt while Feroze Kuushi was bowled trying to turn the ball to leg.
Varun Chopra lightened the Essex gloom by driving Oliver Robinson for six but in the same over, he was bowled to leave Essex 18 for 3 in the fourth over.
Worse was to follow when Mitchell Claydon joined the attack to breach the defenses of Michael Pepper four runs later.
That left Simon Harmer and Paul Walter attempting to repair the damage but they found it difficult to make progress against bowlers who gave nothing away.
So much so that the halfway point of their innings arrived with only 47 on the board, but a reverse sweep to the boundary off spinner Danny Briggs brought up the 50, and in the same over Walter unleashed a superb drive for six.
A couple of boundaries by Walter off former Essex paceman Tymal Mills improved fortunes for the home side before the introduction of David Wiese ended the partnership on 43, with Harmer departing as he skied a top edge which Salt accepted with ease.
Much now depended on Walter if Essex were to post any sort of challenge and he responded by punishing Briggs for six and a four as he moved towards his half-century, which he eventually reached with a leg glance to the fence.
Immediately after bringing up his fifty, Walter lost another partner at the crease as debutant Robin Das was caught at square leg to provide Garton with success in the 16th over.
While Walter continued to impress with two more boundaries, Jack Plom was bowled by Garton to provide the paceman with his fourth success and leave Essex on 109.
Following the departure of Aron Nijjar, a victim of Claydon, Walter’s fine innings came to an end in the final over when he was bowled by Robinson for 76. This effort spanned 44 balls and included nine fours and three sixes.
Sussex did not embark upon their target in a blaze of glory. Luke Wright’s stumps were left in disarray by Plom with the total on nine and Rawlins provided Ben Allison with his first wicket at the senior level when he was caught by Shane Snater for 4.
Snater then joined the attack to have former Essex star Ravi Bopara caught on the square leg boundary by Allison to spark a collapse and leave Sussex nerves jangling.
Salt, having struck seven fours and a six in his 22-ball 42 was caught in the deep by Harmer, who then made an impact with his off-spin by trapping David Wiese leg before to leave the visitors 59 for five.
The total moved into the 70’s in the tenth over to leave Calum MacLeod and Garton to put the innings back on even keel.
Both were to collect boundaries at the expense of Harmer before the pair carried the total into three figures in the 15th over.
Garton then square cut Delport to the boundary in the next over to carry his score to 34 from 30 deliveries and take Sussex to victory and seal a home quarter-final against Lancashire Lightning October 1st.