T20: Middlesex slump to heavy defeat against Sussex
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Laurie Evans hit a second half-century of the T20 campaign to see Sussex canter to an eight-wicket victory over Middlesex at Uxbridge.
Evans plundered three sixes and four fours, reaching his half century from 25 balls when depositing the winning hit into the crowd, as the visitors chased down a target of 172 with four overs to spare.
Sharks' skipper Luke Wright, who had scored a century against Middlesex at Lord's in the Royal London Cup back in May, had earlier blasted 48 in 27 balls, while Alex Carey was unbeaten on 41.
The victory all but clinched Sussex's quarter-final place, as they sit three points clear in the standings, and was the fifth time this season they had put one over the tenants of Lord's.
Middlesex remain fourth, at least for a few hours, but this is the first time in the competition this season they have lost back-to-back games.
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Dawid Malan had no hesitation in choosing to bat first and he and Paul Stirling got the hosts off to a strong start.
Stirling struck a maximum in the first over as he finally found some form in the format this season.
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Malan was even more fluent at the other end, striking some sumptuous trademark cover drives as they rattled up a stand of 57 before Stirling (30) skied one to Evans at cover off Ollie Robinson from the final ball of the powerplay.
Sadly, for the hosts, Malan (31) followed soon afterwards, hitting Will Beer's worst delivery of the day straight down the throat of deep square.
Eoin Morgan kept up the momentum, England's one day captain clearing the players' pavilion with one maximum off Danny Briggs.
Mohammed Hafeez (48) too applied the long handle, just clearing the ropes with successive sixes off Beer.
At 141-2 off 15 overs 200 looked within reach, but Morgan holed out at long-off from the bowling of Reece Topley (1-30) and from there the innings lost all impetus - just 30 runs were scraped off the last five overs.
A total of 171 looked short of par, especially when Sharks' openers Phil Salt and Wright took three boundaries from Tom Helm's first over.
Toby Roland-Jones was greeted with similar disdain, Wright pulling the former England quick for six over cow corner and successive fours as the 50 came up in four overs.
Hafeez spurned a tough caught and bowled chance to reprieve Wright on 27 and he celebrated by smashing Nathan Sowter for six over mid-wicket in the following over.
It was Stirling who made the breakthrough when Salt lofted him to George Scott in the deep, the all-rounder juggling the ball before clinging on.
Wright continued to plunder the home attack until he miscued another big hit and was caught and bowled by Steven Finn.
His dismissal did little to stop the carnage, Evans and Carey sharing a stand of 81 in just seven overs as they sped to victory.
Turning Point: The dismissal of Eoin Morgan stalled the Middlesex innings, preventing them posting a total much closer to 200 which would have brought with it the necessary scoreboard pressure
Shot/ Ball of the match: Morgan get s the consolation prize here for his mighty blow which endangered those in the pavilion and beyond.
Unsung Hero: Reece Topley's 1-30 was a better effort than in looked on a belter of a batting wicket and he was key to causing Middlesex's late loss of momentum.
What's next: Sussex can seal a home quarter-final if they win away to Glamorgan on Monday, while Middlesex, who will have AB de Villiers back in harness will surely have to win away to Hampshire on Thursday to keep their qualification hopes alive.