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Sussex collapse as Gloucestershire pull off spectacular Vitality Blast victory

Gloucestershire’s bowlers produced a remarkable fightback at Hove to beat Sussex by four runs in a last-over thriller in the Vitality Blast.

The visitors took eight wickets for 23 runs in six overs to move up to third in the South Group.

It was a spectacular collapse by Sussex, who appeared on course for a routine victory when they reached 118 for three in the 14th over and were cruising towards their target of 146 with Tom Alsop and Fynn Hudson-Prentice having added 69 in 53 balls.

Alsop made a superb 82 off 52 balls, his second fifty in this season’s Blast in the week he made his move from Hampshire permanent.

But when both he and Hudson-Prentice were stumped off former Sussex left-arm spinner Tom Smith in the space of three deliveries, the innings went into an alarming tailspin.

The next five batters managed just 13 runs between them amid some tight bowling and suspect shot selection under pressure.

Suddenly, last pair Archie Lenham and Steven Finn needed nine off the final over, but David Payne held his nerve to seal victory with two balls to spare when Finn’s top edge gave wicketkeeper James Bracey his fifth catch of the innings.

Gloucestershire had earlier recovered well in the second half of their innings thanks to a stand of 98 by Glenn Phillips and Jack Taylor.

They had been 49 for four at halfway, but Phillips, who made an unbeaten 94 in the corresponding fixture last season, hit eight fours and two sixes in a 53-ball 66, only to fall in the final over when he dragged the ball on to his stumps off Obed McCoy.

Taylor, who offered good support with 46 off 31 deliveries, was run out by wicketkeeper Tim Seifert off the next ball trying to pinch the strike.

Gloucestershire had lost three wickets in the power play, including Hammond off the first ball when he drove off-spinner Ward’s first delivery in T20 – a full toss – to mid-off.

McCoy and Finn also struck with the first ball of their spells as Bracey feathered an edge to Seifert after being surprised by McCoy’s extra bounce and Ian Cockbain slapped a wide half-volley from Finn straight to point.

Left-arm spinner Delray Rawlins bowled superbly in the middle of the innings, conceding 13 in his spell and picking up Ryan Higgins who holed out to deep mid-wicket in the ninth over.

But Phillips hit leg-spinner Lenham for three successive boundaries to give the innings some momentum and his brace of sixes included one off the back foot off McCoy which was still climbing as it cleared the rope at mid-wicket.

Sussex’s reply began badly with Seifert caught behind off Payne in the first over, and although skipper Ravi Bopara fell in the fifth over to Chappell, Sussex were 56 for two at the end of their power play.

Alsop hit five sixes and he appeared to have the hosts on course for a comfortable victory, but things started to unravel spectacularly for Sussex following his dismissal.

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