Sussex’s Vitality T20 Blast group stage unbeaten run was ended by Surrey as they were defeated by 26 runs at The Oval.
Good knocks from Laurie Evans (34) and David Wiese (31no) were not enough after Will Beer (3-22) and Chris Jordan (2-28) had restricted Surrey with the ball and Sussex fell to their first defeat of their campaign in front of a sell-out 25,000 crowd.
Sharks captain Luke Wright won the toss and elected to bowl and this decision looked to be a superb one when Wiese struck in the second over to remove Aaron Finch for nine. Sussex had another wicket an over later when a horrible mix-up between Mark Stoneman and Sam Curran saw the former run out by Wright for one.
Ollie Pope and Curran recovered things for Surrey with some counter-attacking shots to take them to 61/2 at the end of the powerplay. Curran looked impressive as he neared his half-century but Beer accounted for him by bowling the all-rounder for 47.
The Sussex spinners of Danny Briggs, Rashid Khan and Beer then began to slow things down as Ben Foakes and Pope could only add 22 in four overs.
This pressure eventually told as Beer took two wickets in an over with Foakes caught by Wiese for 12 before removing the dangerous Will Jacks caught and bowled for one. Sussex made runs hard to come by as tight bowling from the spinners saw only 39 come off the next six overs.
Surrey’s innings was kept alive by Pope who looked set to make a half-century, but he was bowled by a stunning yorker from Chris Jordan to end his knock on 48. New batsman Jordan Clark added a few quick runs with back-to-back sixes off Reece Topley but he was removed the next ball, caught in the deep by Phil Salt for 15.
A good last over from Jordan saw him bowl Curran for 21 just as he was starting to launch before he conceded just four runs from his last three balls as Surrey set Sussex a target of 164 to win.
In reply, Sharks openers Wright and Salt got Sussex off to a flying start with 30 runs coming from the first three overs. However, Surrey broke through when Salt skied a delivery from Tom Curran for Foakes to take a superb catch as the ball swirled in the air to dismiss him for 15.
Sussex ended the powerplay on 47/1 with Laurie Evans joining Wright as they looked to continue their good start. However, the pair were tied down by some tight bowling from Surrey which lead to Wright’s dismissal as Clark removed him caught and bowled for 25.
Evans gave himself a good platform as he looked to push on with Alex Carey, but he fell for a run-a-ball 34 when Foakes took a juggling catch behind the stumps off Imran Tahir to leave Sussex with a big task in the final overs. Some further tight bowling from Surrey continued to halt Sussex’ push as Wiese joined Carey with 65 required from the last five overs.
However, Tahir continued to peg Sussex back as he removed Carey (17) and Rawlins (0) in the same over as the Sharks slid towards defeat. Sussex continued to lose wickets with Tom Curran removing Rashid (0) caught by Tahir off Tom Curran before he had Jordan (1) caught at deep square leg.
Beer (1) was caught at mid-off by Finch off Jade Dernbach before Tom Curran closed out the innings as Sussex registered their first defeat.
Beer said: “That’s my first game in the T20 this season so it’s good to bowl well - but it’s also the first game we’ve lost! Surrey played better than us on the night so fair play to them, and in hindsight it might have been better to have opted to bat first because, although we knew the pitch was a used one and would be slow and low, it did seem to get worse as the game went on.”
Sussex - one point clear at the top of the south group with a game in hand on their three closest rivals - will look to get back to winning ways away to Kent on Friday evening