Natwest T20 Blast Preview: Sussex Sharks v Surrey

Early South Group pace-setters Sussex will be looking to maintain their 100% Natwest T20 Blast record when Surrey become the latest visitors to Hove on Friday evening.

Perhaps a surprise given each team has played just twice, the Sharks are the only team to boast a perfect record, edging out Gloucestershire via the Duckworth/Lewis method before trouncing Somerset on Wednesday last time out.

It seems the fixture Gods have been kind to the south coasters, gifting three home games to open their season, but with contention to leave the division always tight, Mark Davis’ side cannot afford to rest on their laurels even at this stage of the competition.

Their latest success had the benefit of being in front of the Sky TV cameras, overshadowing the introduction of Chris Gayle in the process as Chris Nash and the returning Luke Wright bashed 156 for the opening partnership.

The Sharks eventually ended their 20 overs with 222-4 behind them, 48 runs too strong for Somerset as David Wiese ended up with four wickets.

For Surrey, a season brimming with expectation has so far failed to hit the high levels. A drastic Specsavers County Championship campaign at the fore, not even the Blast has given them solace, although they did open up with a strong victory over Essex at Chelmsford.

But that was followed by a humbling at the hands of Glamorgan at the Kia Oval. Bundled to 93-9 from their 20 overs, their under-par batting display was obviously no match for their Welsh visitors, chasing down the total with almost eight overs remaining.

Those with long memories will remember the sad events surrounding last season’s corresponding fixture. Almost 19 overs into Sussex’s innings, the first at Arundel, Surrey fielders Moises Henriques and Rory Burns collided while chasing a ball in the outfield.

The former didn’t return to action until three months later after breaking his jaw in three places, while Burns also suffered severe facial injuries in the sickening collision. The match was subsequently abandoned.

The reverse fixture also failed to see a finish, this time with less shocking reason as the Kia Oval clash was washed out by the rain last July.

Key Men

Anyone watching the Sky coverage on Wednesday will have seen the express pace Tymal Mills was racking up. The now one-day specialist clocked speeds upwards of 93mph when bowling Somerset’s Chris Gayle, enough to get Nasser Hussain, Rob Key and one particular reporter drooling over the potential.

Talks of an England call-up may be a fraction ambitious, although the former Essex man averages 15 balls for each of his T20 wickets at Hove.

Normally in the side primarily for his bowling, Tom Curran had to show his prowess with the bat in Surrey’s mauling by Glamorgan just over a week ago.

The second top-scorer, one behind his brother Sam, Tom followed up his match-winning 32 and 3-21 against Essex with 20 at the Kia Oval, while his two overs also went for just 12.

Team News

Sussex have unsurprisingly named an unchanged squad from their victory over Somerset, with Harry Finch and George Garton joining the XI that featured on Wednesday.

Sussex squad: Luke Wright (captain), Will Beer, Danny Briggs, Ben Brown (wicket-keeper), Harry Finch, George Garton, Chris Jordan, Matt Machan, Tymal Mills, Chris Nash, Ajmal Shahzad, Ross Taylor, David Wiese

Perhaps crucially for their potential tournament success, Surrey are now able to call upon the talents of Dwayne Bravo, joining Kumar Sangakkara as an overseas star.

Azhar Mahmood misses out after picking up an injury while batting last time out, joining Mark Footitt and Jade Dernbach on the Kia Oval treatment table.

Surrey squad: Gareth Batty (captain), Zafar Ansari, Dwayne Bravo, James Burke, Rory Burns, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Steven Davies, Ben Foakes (wicket-keeper), Stuart Meaker, Mathew Pillans, Jason Roy, Kumar Sangakkara, Gary Wilson

Form

Sussex: WW

Surrey: LW

Weather and Conditions

The short Hove boundaries have seen a plethora of runs so far this season, with the home side striking more than 240 and 220 respectively in each of their first two efforts.

The odd shower may frequent the south, with dark cloud potentially looming across the evening.

Date: Friday 3rd June

Time: 7:00pm

Ground: 1st Central Ground, Hove

Umpires: Neil Mallender & Ben Debenham

Odds (via SkyBet): Sussex 8/11, Surrey 11/10

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