Controversy reigns as Sussex Sharks lose to Kent by one run
A controversial umpiring decision marred an otherwise thrilling game as Kent Spitfires won by one run at Hove.
With just two to win from two balls, Ravi Bopara was adjudged to have gloved a legside bouncer from Fred Klaassen through to keeper Jordan Cox but the reaction from the all-rounder as well as YouTube replays and judgement from BBC Sussex commentators suggested otherwise.
The following ball saw Ollie Robinson run out as Kent secured victory by one run, a defeat which could cost Sussex top spot in the group.
Sussex skipper Luke Wright said: "We're gutted because right up until the last couple of balls we looked to have got over the line, it's a game that got away from us.
"I thought we probably gave Kent 15-20 too many runs but there were still lots of positives for us. David Wiese apologised because he didn't think he hit his usual standards which shows you the type of cricketer he has become while I thought Danny Briggs was outstanding again.
"We've got a week now before our next game and hopefully we can get some momentum going when we start again. We're still in a strong position."
Both sides were unchanged from their victories last time out with Wright winning the toss and electing to bowl, a decision which should have given the Sharks some immediate success but for some difficult fielding conditions.
Zak Crawley was dropped on five in the second over by Delray Rawlins off the bowling of Robinson as the batsmen struggled to pick up the white ball against a cloudy backdrop.
The drop proved to be costly as the Kent openers got off to an explosive start in the powerplay, hitting 55 runs off 5.2 overs before Sussex got the breakthrough they needed, George Garton having Bell-Drummond caught for 22 by Danny Briggs, the opener flicking an uppercut to the leg-spinner at backward point.
The Sharks grabbed another wicket just eight balls later, Heino Kuhn caught by Tymal Mills for four off the bowling of Briggs, after the South-African mistimed a reverse sweep which went straight to Mills in the deep.
This brought Alex Blake together with Crawley with the pair repairing the early damage as they added a 50-run partnership in the next five overs, with the former bringing up his third T20 fifty in the process.
Sussex didn’t help themselves in the field with Robinson dropping Blake on 21 off Garton after the big-hitting batsman toe ended a shot but was helped out by the ball swirling in the wind at Hove.
As the partnership reached 68 runs, the Sharks managed to remove both set batsmen within 10 balls, Mills first breaking the partnership by having Crawley caught by Will Beer in the ring for 67 after the England Test batsman misjudged a wide yorker.
Garton removed Blake for 41 off 29 balls, trapping him leg-before after walking across his stumps to leave Kent at 142/4.
Despite a loss of two quick wickets, Kent continued to attack with Jack Leaning and Grant Stewart picking up where the pair left off by smashing 24 off David Wiese’s second over.
Sussex were able to temporarily stop the flow of runs in the following over when Stewart was caught for 11 by Harry Finch on the boundary off Mills but Leaning then took control when he hit three sixes off the left-armer in the same over.
A tight final over bowled by Robinson which saw just seven runs come from it meant Kent finished on a strong total of 195/5.
Sussex needed to get off to an explosive start and they did exactly that, smashing 58 in the first four powerplay overs. However, the first ball of the fifth over saw Kent grab the wicket they needed with Phil Salt caught at long-on by Imran Qayyum off Klaassen for 33 off 14 balls.
Wright continued to power on as he added 21 runs in just seven balls as Sussex looked to keep the momentum but his innings reached a soft end in the sixth over when he pulled a ball from Tim Groenewald straight to Qayyum for 40 off just 19 balls.
Harry Finch and Rawlins looked to settle things down for the Sharks as they added 36 at a more moderate rate of just under five overs compared to their opening counterparts.
The pair had just started to motor as the chase entered its 12th over before Qayyum broke through, Finch bowled for 13, having hit the left-arm spinner for a six the previous ball.
Rawlins had been going along nicely at the other end, striking four boundaries in total but Kent once again struck at a vital time, Qayyum having the Bermudan caught for 30 by Spitfires captain Daniel Bell-Drummond to leave the Sharks in a bit of trouble at 131/4.
It looked to be down to Wiese yet again to guide the Sharks home, after doing so in Sussex’s previous two games with the South-African and Ravi Bopara looking to do as they built a platform to launch, adding 20 in four overs.
With the platform built, Wiese began to attack, smashing the 17th over bowled by Klaassen for 20 runs before hitting a six in the penultimate over which looked to have swung the game the host’s way.
However, Matt Milnes had Wiese caught for on the boundary by Kuhn for 38 off the last ball of the over which left the Sharks needing nine from the final over.
Two wides from the first two balls from Klaassen saw the task become easier for the Sharks before some good running between the wickets from Bopara and Garton left Sussex needing two runs from two balls.
However, controversy struck when Bopara was given out for 18, adjudged to have gloved a ball down the legside to keeper Jordan Cox, the reaction from the all-rounder suggesting he was nowhere near it.
It was Robinson to face the final ball, and despite being able to dig out a yorker from Klaassen to attempt to scamper a single, he was run out well short of his ground by Bell-Drummond to seal a one-run victory for Kent.