South Group: Sussex 242-5 (Taylor 93*) beat Gloucestershire 83-1 by one run (D/L/S method)
Ross Taylor’s pyrotechnics lit up a gloomy Bristol as the Blackcap blasted 93 not-out off just 48 balls with four boundaries and eight mammoth sixes. This was enough to see Sussex over the line in a nail-biting, rain-affected affair.
Visitors Sussex were inserted by the hosts and made a bright start to their innings with an early stand of 48.
Openers Chris Nash and Philip Salt, on debut, were removed in the fifth and sixth overs but this only brought the New Zealand veteran to the crease.
The crowd was abuzz as the big-star name began steadily, initially aided by a useful innings of 43 off 25 balls by Ben Brown.
But the keeper was hoisted by his charades as he was stumped after some smart glove work by Gloucestershire’s Cameron Bancroft off the bowling of Benny Howell.
Yet Sussex refused to let up as Taylor, now in partnership with Matt Machan, continued the momentum.
The unfortunate opening bowler, David Payne, was torn to shreds by the indomitable 32-year-old who smashed 26 off his final over to leave the paceman with figures of 0-62 in his set of four.
Craig Miles did well to concede only six runs off the bat in the 18th but salt soon was rubbed into the gaping Taylor-inflicted wound as the visitors were awarded six penalty runs for a slow over rate.
Home allegiances were soon tossed aside as the crowd willed Taylor onto a deserved century but playing selflessly he fell short of the personal milestone but lifted his team to 240 – the 12th highest T20 score of all time.
The home side were given little hope in the interval but with nothing to lose openers Hamish Marshall and Klinger began with intent.
Marshall fell victim to former England outsiders as he was caught by Danny Briggs off the bowling of Ajmal Shahzad.
As rain trickled down Klinger and Ian Cockbain delighted the crowd with some ferocious stroke play.
Seamer Ollie Robinson suffered a nasty fall in the wet conditions but with the aid of some sawdust the umpires kept the players on the field.
By the end of the seventh over Gloucestershire had sneaked ahead on Duckworth-Lewis and the home fans began to believe.
However, after captain Taylor tossed the ball to Will Beer for his first bowl of the evening, the leggie bowled three tight deliveries which turned out to be crucial.
As the downpour worsened the players were forced off half way through the over and to Klinger, Cockbain and all of Gloucestershire’s horror they were now one run behind the rate.
The gutted home skipper walked to the pavilion despondently while Sussex sneaked-off, smiles on their faces, after a narrow albeit deserved victory.
Man of the Match: Ross Taylor. Imperiousness, superiority and all-round destruction from the New Zealander got the Sussex campaign off to a perfect start.