Last year’s beaten finalists Surrey are up and running in the Royal London Cup after easing to a six-wicket victory over Sussex Sharks at Guildford today (Wednesday).
On a fast-scoring ground, a Duckworth-Lewis target of 235 in 43 overs always looked attainable, although Surrey briefly wobbled when they lost three wickets for six runs in 11 balls.
But from 99-4 the innings was rebuilt by Rory Burns and Ben Foakes, who put on an defeated 136 in 18.3 overs, although Burns rode his luck early in his innings when he was twice dropped by Ajmal Shahzad, once off his own bowling and then at mid-off, before he reached 30.
Burns prospered thereafter and finished on 70 not out (59 balls) with five fours and two sixes, one of which landed in the road next to the ground. Foakes was undefeated on 61 from 60 deliveries (nine fours) as victory came in the 34th over.
Sussex had been bowled out for 239 with nine balls unused after their innings was reduced to 45 overs following an hour-long stoppage because of morning rain.
The Sharks, who had claimed their first win in the competition against Middlesex on Sunday, lost Chris Nash (0) to the third ball when he was squared up by Tom Curran and Ed Joyce (21), who was caught low down at second slip off Ravi Rampaul, having just hit the West Indian for successive boundaries and a six.
Phil Salt (21) spooned a catch to mid-on in Stuart Meaker’s first over and Meaker struck again to end a promising innings by Harry Finch (31), who fatally chased width and was caught at slip.
Sussex lost their fifth wicket in the 22nd over when Ben Brown (10) was smartly stumped by Foakes aiming to hit Zafar Ansari through leg, but from an unpromising 100-5, the innings revived thanks to two partnerships involving Chris Jordan.
Both he and skipper Luke Wright struck the ball cleanly as they put on 69 in 11 overs before Wright was athletically held by the diving Jason Roy at point for 42. Jordan was then joined by South African David Wiese, who was making his competition debut as replacement overseas player for the injured Ross Taylor.
Wiese is regarded as a bowler, but he struck the ball impressively while Jordan was moving to his maiden list A half-century. The England international hit six boundaries in his 55 from 60 balls only for his innings to end with a tame clip to mid-wicket off Matt Pillans.
Kumar Sangakkara took a juggling catch on the mid-wicket boundary to remove Wiese for 41 off 31 balls (six fours, one six) as Sussex’s last three wickets fell in 11 balls for the addition of just nine runs, Rampaul finishing with 4-47.
Roy and Steven Davies launched Surrey’s response with 65 in nine overs either side of a rain stoppage before Roy (32) was held on the mid-wicket boundary in George Garton’s first over.
Shahzad bowled Sangakkara (20) off an inside edge and had Ansari caught behind for a duck the ball after Garton had picked up his second wicket when Davies (36) holed out to deep mid-wicket.
But it was plain sailing for Surrey thereafter as Burns and Foakes posted a new fifth wicket record partnership against Sussex in list A games, beating the 89 between Graham Thorpe and Adam Hollioake at Horsham in 1995.
Sussex captain Luke Wright said: “With the weather around it was a big toss on a pitch which started damp so they had the best of the conditions. Having said that, we fought back pretty well and 260-270 would have been a decent score but we got a bit sloppy towards the end of our innings and to not use up all our overs was very disappointing.
“We dropped a few catches as well but when they were 99-4 we’d got a way back into the game which we almost didn’t deserve. Foakes and Burns batted well to be fair. We don’t play in the competition for a few weeks now and when we come back we’ve basically got four cup finals. We’ll need to win all four to progress I think.”
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