Sussex 332 for 4 (Evans 134*, Finch 80, Wright 64) beat Kent 331 for 7 (Bell-Drummond 138, Blake 76, Archer 3-54) by six wickets
Laurie Evans blasted an unbeaten 134 to help Sussex land a six-wicket Royal London One-Day Cup victory over winless South Group rivals Kent in Canterbury. Evans struck a maiden white-ball ton off 73 balls and finished unbeaten with nine fours and eight sixes to his name as a lacklustre Kent attack failed to defend a 300-plus total for the second match running and crumpled to a third straight defeat with 16 balls to spare.
Evans, whose previous best in white-ball cricket had been a modest 70 for his previous club Warwickshire, savaged a woeful Kent attack that collectively lost their heads. Once again, the efforts of Daniel Bell-Drummond and Alex Blake were in a losing cause.
Visiting openers Chris Nash and Luke Wright made a cracking start to their pursuit of Kent’s 331 for 7 at an asking rate of 6.64 an over by clubbing 31 off Mitchell Claydon’s opening three overs. At the other end, Wayne Parnell kept things much tighter, sending down a maiden in his first three, while Matt Coles replaced Claydon at the Nackington Road End to also open with a maiden.
Wright was offered a life on 21 when Joe Denly downed a tough diving chance at deep square leg, but Nash went for 39 after a toe-ended pull against Coles flew to Bell-Drummond at deep midwicket.
Wright, in his 195th List A appearance, posted a 15th half-century in the format from 54 balls but, with 64 to his name, prodded half-forward to depart lbw against Darren Stevens. Stiaan van Syl then lost his off stump when making room to cut, leaving James Tredwell with 1 for 39 from his 10 overs.
Although the required rate had risen above nine an over, Harry Finch and Evans ploughed on adding 207 for the fourth wicket. Both reached their fifty in the same over, Evans off 48 ball while Finch needed 10 more. Parnell squared up to Evans on his follow through after a failed appeal for a catch at the wicket, after which Parnell and Coles lost their cool, serving up a glut of wide and short deliveries that the Sussex pair devoured.
Coles was spared further punishment having conceded 41 off a three-over burst, but Evans and Finch had a stranglehold on the game and they never let go in posting a first List A double-century stand in matches between the two counties. Finch was bowled just short of victory after scoring 80 off 82 balls, but Evans saw it through to leave Kent, last season’s quarter-finalists, totally demoralised.
With the floodlights on from ball one Kent, having lost the toss, made a stuttering start in losing Denly lbw to Jofra Archer’s 20th delivery of the day. Prodding from the crease to a shooting off-cutter, Denly left umpire Ben Debenham with little option but to raise the finger.
Bell-Drummond and Blake, who both hit centuries against Somerset earlier in the week, led the fightback. Bell-Drummond hit his third successive List A half-century from 52 balls and with five fours and a six, adding 104 for the third wicket inside 20 overs before Sean Dickson, prodding with an open bat face, feathered to a tumbling Ben Brown. The Sussex keeper departed soon after with a finger injury, leaving Finch to don the gloves.
Bell-Drummond marched to his fourth List A hundred and his second in successive knocks in this year’s competition from 115 balls and with six fours and a brace of sixes. Together with Blake, Kent upped the scoring rate adding 54 in the next five overs with boundaries to all parts.
Their enterprising stand of 74 in 8.3 overs and Bell-Drummond’s run-a-ball knock ended when the right-hander smeared to long-off to go for 138 with nine fours and three sixes. But it all counted for nothing once Evans and Finch got their eye in.
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