‘Unbelievable’ – Hudson-Prentice enjoys Sussex Sharks’ thrilling – and winning – Vitality Blast start

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Sussex Sharks scrambled a bye off the final ball of the game to get their Vitality Blast campaign off to a successful start with a three-wicket win over Gloucestershire at Hove.

Chasing 168, the final over began with Sussex needing ten to win but Fynn Hudson-Prentice, whose 47 appeared to have taken them to the brink of victory, was caught behind to give Matt Taylor his third wicket. With eight needed off three deliveries, Jack Carson swung a six onto the pavilion roof and then scrambled a single to leave Nathan McAndrew facing the final ball.

McAndrew failed to make contact, but James Bracey missed his shy at the stumps and Sussex, who only won once at the 1st Central County Ground in last year’s tournament, had completed a breathless triumph.

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Hudson-Prentice said, “It was an unbelievable game. Last-ball finishes are always fun and it’s even better when you get over the line. Both teams had periods when they were on top on a pitch was a bit two-paced. We lost three wickets in the powerplay but having Simmo (John Simpson) with all his experience in the middle helped and the plan then was to take it as deep as we could without losing too many wickets. Simmo and Lamby (Danny Lamb) got the run rate down to a manageable level then Jack Carson hit that six to get us over the line.

Sussex close in on their target | Picture: Eva GilbertSussex close in on their target | Picture: Eva Gilbert
Sussex close in on their target | Picture: Eva Gilbert

“I don’t think we did that much wrong all game. These sort of games are the ones to play in and I was thankful for the opportunity to bat a bit higher at five, because I felt I could add a bit more in that position. I have batted there for Derbyshire and it went okay. For me it’s a big change from last year batting three or four places higher and hopefully there is more to come.

“It’s massive to win the first game. It gives you belief and energy and the boys are riding high with another game to come in Cardiff on Sunday.”

Gloucestershire will feel it was a game they should have won, in particular the Taylor brothers Jack and Matt. Skipper Jack got them up to what looked to be a competitive total of 167 for 8 on a hybrid pitch offering decent pace and carry with 52, then Matt became the third bowler in the match on a hat-trick when Ollie Carter failed to control a short ball and Charlesworth dived full length to his right at short third to brilliantly cling one-handed onto Tom Alsop’s full-blooded cut shot.

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When James Coles was bowled making room to manoeuvre David Payne through the off side and debutant Daniel Hughes played around a straight one from left-arm spinner Graeme van Buuren, Sussex were 53 for 4 in the eighth over and up against it, but John Simpson joined Hudson-Prentice to add 56 off 37 balls and get the chase back on course.

There was a big crowd in for the Blast opener at Hove | Picture: Eva GilbertThere was a big crowd in for the Blast opener at Hove | Picture: Eva Gilbert
There was a big crowd in for the Blast opener at Hove | Picture: Eva Gilbert

Simpson made 36 off 19 before pulling a ball from Marchant de Lange to mid-wicket, but Lamb and Hudson-Prentice maintained the momentum with 47 off 32 to take Sussex to within 13 of victory with two overs remaining. There was another twist when Ajeet Singh Dale deceived Lamb with a slower ball and conceded just three runs to set up a thrilling final over but Sussex got over the line.

Jack Taylor clearly benefited from a move up to five as he made his third fifty in the format before becoming one of three victims in the final over for Sussex’s new skipper Tymal Mills, who finished with 4 for 25.

Taylor came in halfway through the innings and took the initiative after McAndrew had picked up two wickets with successive balls in the 14th over to leave Gloucestershire on 111 for 5.

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He helped plunder 19 off the penultimate over, swinging Lamb over mid-wicket and out of the ground for his third six before Mills showed all his experience at the end of the innings, conceding just three runs and removing Taylor to a catch at deep square leg and foxing van Buuren and Matt Taylor with his slower ball. It was to prove a crucial contribution.

Gloucestershire had been in good shape when openers Miles Hammond and Cameron Bancroft added 59 but it was a good night for Carson, who was making his T20 debut and took two wickets in his only over to remove Hammond and Bracey.

Bancroft looked untroubled until a searing yorker from Australian compatriot McAndrew spectacularly split his leg stump in two, but Jack Taylor helped wrest back the initiative by adding 64 off 35 balls with Ben Charlesworth and his sibling maintained Gloucestershire’s momentum before Sussex fought back.

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