Surrey 163 for 8 (S Curran 47, Pope 48) beat Sussex 137 for 8 by 26 runs
A sold-out Oval was treated to a clinic in T20 cricket by the home side as Surrey completed a virtually no-frills victory against top-of-the-table Sussex to inflict the first loss of the away side’s Blast campaign.
Put in to bat by Sussex, two early wickets left Surrey in a little trouble, and it was up to the young guns Sam Curran and Ollie Pope to dig their side out of a hole at 14 for 2. Both are renowned already, despite being aged only 21. Curran in particular is famed not just for his all-round ability, but for his fearlessness.
Age is just a number, and Reece Topley is just a tattooed 6’6″ quick bowling rockets. Curran’s response to his first bouncer? Bring it on: six to fine leg. When David Wiese tried it at the other end, another six – this one sailed over deep square leg, into the crowd, and was gobbled up gratefully by a punter 15 rows back, earning him £1,000 courtesy of the sponsors. A few more fours and another six over deep midwicket, and Curran suddenly had 46 off only 22 balls.
The crowd’s fun was ended in the next over though, as he played Will Beer onto his stumps trying to heave the ball into the legside to be dismissed for 47 from 24.
What was most impressive about his performance was that up until 11am today, there was still a chance Curran would be playing a Test match on the other side of London instead. He has played five T20 games for Surrey in this year’s Blast, yes, but his ability to change his mindset for a completely different form of the game in such a short space of time showed why he has proven himself to be such a valuable commodity in the modern-day game.
While far less explosive than Curran, Pope’s innings proved just as important to the home side. As his teammate teed off, Pope anchored the innings. Nudging and nurdling singles with ease, he only hit his first boundary in the 15th over, 12 overs after he had come to the crease.
This wasn’t the swashbuckling style we are used to in T20 cricket, but Pope showed maturity beyond his years by realising the role he needed to play for his side on a used wicket that was doing a lot for the three spinners Sussex had selected. He eventually fell to a Chris Jordan yorker having made 48 off 44 balls.
Sussex may have the number one T20 bowler in the world in legspinner Rashid Khan, but it was veteran leggie Will Beer who was the pick of the bunch. Playing in his first Blast fixture of the season, after being consigned to 2nd XI for the duration of the competition so far, Beer finished with figures of 3 for 22 as Surrey failed to score a single boundary off his four overs.
Some scrambled runs and hefty blows by the remaining batsmen got Surrey to a total of 163 for 8 off their 20 overs. Against the batting firepower Sussex have available, the defence would be tough.
Openers Phil Salt and Luke Wright got Sussex off to a flyer, but the loss of Salt, Sussex’s highest run-scorer in this year’s Blast, gave Surrey a boost and the runs began to dry up. Having made 37 in the first four overs, Sussex managed only another 33 runs in the next six, and before long needed 10 per over.
Realising the order of the day was cheap overs, not wickets, Surrey captain Jade Dernbach managed his bowlers well, and the Sussex batsmen struggled to score boundaries. Surrey’s bowlers continued keep a stranglehold over Sussex’s batsmen and the required run rate grew and grew. With four overs to go, Sussex had seven wickets in hand, but still required 53 runs for victory.
Go hard or go home mode kicked in for Sussex; in this case, they went home as four wickets fell for five runs in the next two overs as they tried to catch up with the rate.
This wasn’t the most entertaining way to pull off a win, with much of the Oval crowd more interested in the big screen Kiss Cam during Sussex’s reply. It was, however, a clinical and much-needed victory for second-bottom Surrey as they look to avoid taking the wooden spoon in South Group.
Article source: http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/story/1197677.html?CMP=OTC-RSS