South Group: Surrey 205-4 (Roy 109, Sangakkara 54) beat Sussex 182-5 (Taylor 51) by 23 runs
Jason Roy blasted a magnificent fourth T20 century as Surrey recovered from their Glamorgan mauling to snatch away Sussex’s winning Natwest T20 Blast start.
Roy smashed 109, 16 more than his whole side mustered last time out, as Sussex’s usually-impressive bowling unit failed to hit their straps before falling 23 runs short with the bat.
Tymal Mills, heralded as a potential England star just 48 hours ago, was wayward, going for 55 from his four overs, while David Wiese was spared after his first and only two overs went for 32.
Kumar Sangakkara also chipped in with a half-century of his own, as did Ross Taylor in reply, as the hosts suffered their first defeat of the season in the competition.
Surrey and Roy in particular got off to a blistering start, striking 38 within four overs before Steven Davies (who made three out of the 38) fell to Mills’ solitary wicket of the evening.
At the small ground that is Hove, suited to pretty much any batsman who can hit a ball, Roy opted to pick out the boundary boards as opposed to the close fielders, while Sangakkara joined in the fun.
Within 11 overs the two put on 97 for the second wicket, before Sangakkara was trapped LBW by Ajmal Shahzad, allowing new overseas signing Dwayne Bravo a chance after coming over from the IPL.
The West Indian blitzed four sixes in his 14-ball stay, helping Surrey reach 200, but with both he and Roy falling in consecutive Chris Jordan balls, a touch of impetus was lost towards the inning’s close.
It was, however, brought immediately when Chris Nash was caught by Tom Curran off brother Sam, celebrating his 18th birthday, just three balls in.
Despite the senior Curran going for four byes-four-four at the start of the second over, Ben Brown followed swiftly after to put Sussex further on the back foot.
Boundaries dried up thereafter as Taylor and Luke Wright rebuilt, but in T20 cricket you hardly have time to catch your own breath let alone the situation.
A six from each of the pair off Zafar Ansari in the eighth over was followed by the same feat in the next over from Gareth Batty, as Sussex threatened an unlikely heist with 116 required from the last 10 overs.
But when Ansari returned to rid both of them in the space of three balls, the contest was all but at an end. Roy couldn’t keep out of the game as Wright gifted him a catch, while the bowler tempted the New Zealander into advancing down the pitch to be stumped by Ben Foakes.
Jordan and Matt Machan were the latest to chance their arms, both finding the boundary with relative regularity.
But Matthew Pillans delivered his best game in a Surrey shirt to go for just 22 from three overs, a measured performance given the nature of the match as, despite lower-order resistance, Sussex fell 23 runs short.