Luke Wright’s exceptional innings and a fantastic effort from Sussex’s bowlers guided the Sharks to victory over Somerset in the second semi-final at Vitality Blast Finals Day.
A target of 203 was always going to be daunting, but Sussex’s bowlers ensured that the pre-match favourites were unable to get anywhere near – ultimately falling 35 runs short.
The 2009 champions progress to a showdown against Finals Day newcomers Worcestershire.
🦈 SUSSEX SHARKS WIN BY 35 RUNS!
— Sussex Cricket (@SussexCCC) September 15, 2018
Sussex’s innings was dominated by Wright. His innings was an example of T20 batting at it’s brilliant, exhilarating best.
It was the kind of knock where one felt sympathy for the ball, such was the brutality of the hitting, as well as concern for the safety of members of the 24,426 strong crowd at Edgbaston.
His half-century came from just 34 balls but it was clear that Wright had no intention of stopping there. By the time he had raced into the 90s, there was a real sense that a first T20 Finals Day century was in the offing.
As it was, his 92 – which came from 53 balls – was a record individual total at the showpiece event. He was eventually stopped in his tracks by Corey Anderson, Max Waller taking the catch.
Wright received support at the top of the order from Phil Salt with a brisk 13 and from Delray Rawlins with 18. But David Wiese was to play the critical supporting hand, delivering a knock even more rapid than Wright’s – with a 26-ball half-century.
Together, Wright and Wiese shared a brutal partnership of 120 in just 9.5 overs for the fourth wicket and they looked set to post a total beyond 220.
But Wright’s wicket after 17.2 overs triggered a remarkable collapse as Sussex slumped from 193 for three to 202 for eight at the end of their 20 overs.
Somerset therefore had some momentum having claimed five wickets for nine runs in just 2.5 overs.
That momentum was snuffed out by Sussex’s much-lauded attack. The supremely-talented Jofra Archer claimed two wickets in his first two overs – including Johann Myburgh who had looked threatening for his 11-ball 22.
Get loads of runs ✅
Get @craig_arch in the game ✅
— Vitality Blast (@VitalityBlast) September 15, 2018
Chris Jordan joined his fellow quick by dismissing Pete Trego for five before Danny Briggs removed James Hildreth – both caught by David Wiese. All that left Somerset flailing at 48 for four after seven overs with their 203 target seeming a long way off.
Hope was injected courtesy of an 86-run partnership between Tom Abell and Corey Anderson. Abell has been accused of lacking the power to bat in T20 cricket but found a new level of strike rate on the big stage.
His 48 from 29 balls was perfectly backed up by the powerful clubbing from New Zealander Anderson. Three sixes were plundered from his bat during the stand and they had batted Somerset to within half a chance – 72 needed from 36 balls.
But luck was to go against the Taunton side, Anderson drilled the ball back at Briggs – whose fingertip deflection ran Abell out at the non-strikers end.
Anderson was given a reprieve, Archer adjudged to have had him caught off an above-waist no-ball, but it mattered not. The right-arm seamer went on to dismiss him, also for 48.
Jordan bowled Lewis Gregory to claim figures of 2-17 from his four overs.
The sheer weight of runs on the board from Sussex was too much for Somerset to chase, especially against an attack with such variety and raw skill.
Worcestershire v Sussex in the final – the clash of the underdogs – underlining the nature of T20 cricket.