Barbadian Jofra Archer continues to set tongues wagging. Yesterday Archer’s hat-trick in a dramatic last over, saw his Sussex to a 12-run win over Middlesex in the Vitality Blast South Group match at Lord’s.
Archer claimed the vital wicket of Eoin Morgan just as England’s white-ball captain threatened an unlikely win for the hosts with 90 off 56 balls, his highest score in T20 cricket. He then bowled John Simpson before completing his hat-trick by trapping James Fuller lbw.
The drama came after a blistering half-century off just 19 balls from Phil Salt and 49 from 20-year-old Bermudan debutant Delray Rawlins had helped the visitors post a challenging total of 168.
Victory was the Sharks’ fourth of the campaign, but defeat for Middlesex left them struggling to qualify.
Smarting from defeat at the hands of Gloucestershire 24 hours earlier where their batting failed them, Jason Gillespie’s side were given an electrifying start by Salt.
He set the tone by hitting successive sixes in the first over, bowled by Steven Finn, a long-hop pulled over square-leg, followed by one drilled over long-off.
Finn claimed some recompense when catching the dangerous Luke Wright at backward point off Ravi Patel, but Salt continued his onslaught, twice depositing Ashton Agar into the crowd, the second maximum seeing him to 50.
Agar bowled him next ball with a quicker delivery, the first of three wickets in as many overs for the Australian, but with the victims costing more than 10-an-over Sussex had 98 on the board at halfway.
Rawlins took up the quest for runs, one reverse sweep into the stands off Agar probably the shot of the innings.
At one stage it looked as if Sussex’s highest score of 202 in the format at Lord’s five years ago might be under threat but to their credit a Middlesex attack pummelled for 229 by Somerset in their last outing fought back well.
Fuller was the first to apply the brakes before Patel bowled Ben Burgess to leave Sussex 150 for 6.
Then Tom Barber took centre stage, having Rawlins caught by Fuller out in the deep, one short of a deserved 50, though the catcher and Nick Gubbins collided in pursuit of the ball, Fuller doing well to cling on as he fell.
Left-armer Barber would go on to claim the scalps of David Wiese and Chris Jordan to make it three in six balls, the second match running he had taken a trio of wickets in an over.
And Sussex were all out with two balls left of their innings when Rashid Khan was caught on the fence to give Fuller a deserved wicket.
Middlesex made a poor start, losing dangerman Paul Stirling for nought to the second ball of the innings, Wright producing a fine diving catch at cover off Wiese.
And when Max Holden fell in the fifth over with just 25 on the board Middlesex were in trouble.
Morgan’s counter-attack was breathtaking with two sixes and five fours, one a gorgeous reverse-sweep, helping glean 31 in just two overs. He and Nick Gubbins raised a 50-stand in 30 balls, of which Morgan contributed 42.
Gubbins was stumped off Danny Briggs for 25, but Morgan went to 50 off 32 deliveries. Another huge six off Rashid followed, but the run-rate kept climbing and Stevie Eskinazi was bowled by Jordan in the quest for quick runs.
While Morgan remained, Middlesex were still in the game and another huge six took the equation down to 16 off the final over.
However, he holed out to Jordan in the deep as Archer, with figures of three for 25, claimed his hat-trick.