Rawlins sparkles for Sussex with half-century
Delray Rawlins produced a sparkling all-round display to guide Sussex Sharks to an eight-wicket victory in their top-of-the-table clash away to Kent Spitfires in the Vitality Blast on Saturday.
The Bermuda all-rounder struck a blistering unbeaten half-century and claimed two wickets to help his team to their fourth qualifying win in the Twenty20 competition at the Spitfire Ground in St Lawrence, Canterbury.
Set a target of 142, Rawlins led the chase as he blasted six fours and four sixes in a whirlwind knock of 62 from 33 balls and dominated a match-winning 62 run third-wicket partnership with Ravi Bopara, the former England all-rounder.
The 22-year-old left -hander lofted Fred Klassen, the Kent seamer, straight down the ground for four to bring up his half century off 31 balls in 32 minutes before belting three successive boundaries off the same bowler to see Sussex safely home with 26 balls to spare.
“The way I've been preparing, I feel like that innings was always coming soon,” Rawlins told The Royal Gazette. “But I'm just happy I can put in a performance to contribute to a win.”
Rawlins's half-century was his second of the season having stroked 65 in a six-wicket defeat against Surrey in the Bob Willis Trophy.
“We've been asking Delray to have a better tempo about his batting,” Luke Wright, the Sussex captain and England all-rounder, added. “He sometimes goes at it so hard that he tends to give his wicket away.
“It was so pleasing to see him bat the way he did here. He looked like a superstar out there and we know he can go on and be the international player he aspires to be.”
Wright and fellow opener Calum MacLeod hit 61 runs in the power play to get Sussex off to a flyer, including 22 from Imran Qayyum's first over of left-arm spin, before Rawlins and Bopara finished the job.
Earlier, Rawlins returned figures of two for 25 with his left-arm spin to help restrict Kent to 141 for eight after being sent to bat.
Rawlins was brought into the attack at the start of the eighth over and claimed the wicket of Daniel Bell-Drummond, the Kent captain, with his second delivery before conceding a run.
The third-change bowler then added the scalp of Heino Kuhn, caught by MacLeod at backward square leg, on the last ball of the twelfth over to trigger a slide that saw five wickets tumble for 21 runs.
Kent were in a strong position at 90 for three midway through their innings but were unable to capitalise as Wright's gamble to deploy spin at both ends with Rawlins and Danny Briggs working in tandem paid off.
“After the great start Kent had I thought that maybe they believed they needed a score of about 180 to 200, but it really wasn't that type of wicket today,” Wright added.
“Getting those wickets in the middle overs helped us to drag it back and it was great for us that Delray got a couple of wickets too.
“I've been trying to give him more of a bowl in this and he helped us to strangle them run-rate wise in the middle overs.”
Second change Briggs took three for 27 to lead the Sussex attack respectively.
The win saw Sussex replace previously unbeaten Kent at the top of the South Group standings.