Hughes and Coles set up Sussex Sharks for Vitality Blast win at Bristol

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Dan Hughes and James Coles registered brutal half centuries as Sussex Sharks completed a Vitality Blast double over South Group rivals Gloucestershire, winning a one-sided contest by 48 runs at the Seat Unique Stadium.

Australian Hughes top-scored with a blistering 65 off 37 balls, while Coles contributed 54 from 33 deliveries in a match-winning third-wicket stand of 113 as the visitors ran up an imposing 208-6 after being put into bat.

Only Josh Shaw and David Payne, who claimed 3-27 and 1-21 respectively, avoided severe punishment as Sussex mustered an impressive combined tally of 8 sixes and 22 fours in a fearsome display of big-hitting.

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Gloucestershire never really threatened to come close, Cameron Bancroft top-scoring with 42 in a reply that came up well short at 160-8 in the face of disciplined bowling from seamers Ollie Robinson, Fynn Hudson-Prentice and Tymal Mills as Sharks made it three wins in four games.

Ollie Robinson''s bowling was key to Sussex's win at Bristol | Picture: Eva GilbertOllie Robinson''s bowling was key to Sussex's win at Bristol | Picture: Eva Gilbert
Ollie Robinson''s bowling was key to Sussex's win at Bristol | Picture: Eva Gilbert

Coles said: "That's three wins and we're in a pretty good place right now. We've talked about trying to be positive and that certainly the case when I came out there with us on 16-2.

"I had more time than I have had in other games and batting with Dan Hughes made things a lot easier. It was quite a tricky pitch to bat on, so it was good that I was able to give myself a few balls to get in. Dan Hughes is so calm and makes it all look so easy and effortless.

"He's so impressive and all I had to do was support him while he played his shots. We were not afraid to play naturally and go for our shots, because we bat a long way down these days and knew we had plenty in hand.

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"I know that, if I have a bad day, then there is a good chance that someone else can pick up the pieces afterwards. We made a really good score on that pitch and the bowlers then did a great job to ensure we didn't give Gloucestershire a sniff. We're building momentum now and cannot wait for the next game."

Beaten in their last three outings, Gloucestershire are now off the pace and under pressure to achieve an unlikely win when they resume their campaign against leaders Surrey at The Oval on Friday.

Gloucestershire's preference is to chase on the pitches at Bristol and Jack Taylor's decision to bowl first paid early dividends as Sussex slipped to 16-2. Harrison Ward was brilliantly held by Ajeet Singh Dale in the deep to provide Payne with his ninth wicket of the short-format campaign, while Shaw marked his first appearance of the season with a superb yorker to pin Oli Carter in the crease.

Hughes carried the fight to Gloucestershire thereafter, the Australian combining immaculate timing and impressive power to find the boundary on five occasions during a powerplay that yielded 45 runs.

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With Coles initially adopting a supporting role, Hughes continued to blaze away, the New South Wales opener cashing in mercilessly when afforded width as Sharks reached 85-2 at halfway.

Coles then went into attack mode, hoisting Ollie Price's off spin over deep square leg for the first six of the innings and then repeating the shot for four as the eleventh over leaked 19 runs.

Following up his half century made against Surrey at The Oval two days earlier, Hughes went to his latest 50 from 31 balls, slog-sweeping fellow Australian Beau Webster for a huge six to bring up that landmark. Shaw returned to bowl Hughes in the thirteenth, at which point the left-hander had harvested 10 fours and a brace of sixes in a murderous innings that propelled Sussex to 129-3.

Having played second fiddle in an exhilarating stand of 113 in 10.2 overs, Coles joined forces with Tom Alsop to ensure there was no respite for Gloucestershire's beleaguered bowlers. Coles needed just 28 balls to raise 50, but then drilled a delivery from Graeme van Buuren straight to extra cover and departed with the score on 150.

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Hudson-Prentice was run out by Miles Hammond and Shaw trapped John Simpson with an in-swinging yorker as Gloucestershire tried to reassert themselves, but powerful late hitting from Alsop and Nathan McAndrew, who staged a whirlwind unbroken stand of 37 in 14 balls, including 29 off the final over from Singh Dale, carried the Sharks out of sight.

Gloucestershire's cause was not helped by Robinson, the England paceman conceding just 11 runs in three overs with the new ball and having Hammond caught at extra cover for 29 as the home side posted 47-1 in the powerplay.

Hudson-Prentice then bowled James Bracey in the next over and, when slow left armer Coles made a mess of Webster's stumps in the tenth, Gloucestershire were 69-3 and in need of something special.

Skipper Taylor did his level best to meet the demands of the day, smiting 2 sixes and a four in one over from Coles that cost 19 runs. He had raised 27 from 13 balls and dominated a stand of 40 with Bancroft when he hoisted Hudson-Prentice to long-on in the fourteenth. Bancroft had advanced to 42 via 32 balls when he was run out by the ubiquitous Robinson later in the same over, after which van Buuren and Charlesworth departed without making an impact as Gloucestershire subsided to 124-7.

Desperate to prove a point after being left out for the last game, Price mustered an unbeaten 29 from 17 balls, but it was too little too late.

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