The Sussex Sharks meet Lancashire in the semi-finals of the Royal London Cup in Hove today in a bid to reach the final after winning Group A.
The Sharks were in fine form, hitting 400 runs from 50 overs in a 157-run win over Middlesex last time out and hitting 397 in the match before that which was a 201-run win over Somerset.
Lancashire finished second in Group B with five wins, two losses and one no result.
The visitors beat Nottinghamshire by three wickets in a tense quarter-final to set up that tie. Veteran Steven Croft hit 115 to help Lancashire over the line, with Danny Lamb the bowlers’ choice with three wickets for 79 carries.
Despite struggling to win in the County Championship and a difficult T20 Blast campaign, Sussex have flourished in the Royal London Cup, notching up six wins in their eight games.
Delray Rawlins said: “It was brilliant, even at the end of that championship block there, we put on a little run, obviously we drew a couple of games but we managed to get a win there.
“Some of the wickets were probably a little flatter than we expected but that’s how the game goes sometimes but we built a bit of momentum and it came.”
Cheteshwar Pujara is captain of the team as he has been brilliant in all tournaments while scoring three centuries.
Ali Orr and Tom Alsop are likely to open the batting for the hosts and the two were in good form too. Orr batted a record 201 and Alsop batted 189, not in Middlesex’s demolition.
Rawlins was a key figure on the ball, taking three wickets for 61 runs against Middlesex.
The weirdo said: “It was good, it was fun. It’s been nice, I’ve bowled at some nice times, Ari Karvelas and Brad Currie took wickets up which was handy, but I was just trying to do my thing with the ball, trying to hit the stumps and when one turns it turns, if not, it goes on.”
Karvelas has been brilliant with the ball throughout the tournament, leading by example from the front. The Greece international has won 19 wickets which is the second best in the entire tournament.
Lancashire have Luke Wells as their opening player, who was previously sacked by the Sharks. Wells could be joined by former England international Keaton Jennings.
Sussex have a very young squad which has given additional responsibilities to players like Rawlins who have been at the club for a number of years.
The Bermuda international said: “I’m trying to put myself in that position, we also have pujara which we can use to bounce some ideas off of each other and some other guys. Alsop played quite a bit but it was fun to have that responsibility and it helped get some good performances out of me.”
Sussex manager James Kirtley will urge his side to seize the big opportunity.
Kirtley said: “We’ve played great cricket in the last couple of games. The home form was strong and we will try to keep playing that brand of cricket at Hove that has made us so successful.
“These young players have captured the imagination of the fans, they have broken so many records along the way, both individually and as a team.
“Our job from the side is to keep everyone happy and staying in the moment and hopefully we’ll come off successful and look forward to a final playing anywhere near our best cricket.”
https://www.theargus.co.uk/sport/20835153.sussex-sharks-face-lancashire-royal-london-cup-semi-final/?ref=rss Sussex Sharks meet Lancashire in the semi-finals of the Royal London Cup