Delray Rawlins smashes match-winning fifty in first match out of self-isolation
Delray Rawlins marked his reappearance for Sussex out of self-isolation with a stunning half-century in a six-wicket Vitality Blast win over Essex at the 1st Central County Ground in Hove yesterday.
The Bermudian’s season had threatened to unravel when he followed being dropped from the four-day team after a run of low scores by being among those who had to go into isolation as close contacts of Covid-stricken batsman Tom Clark.
However, the 23-year-old, who had missed the previous three matches during his mandatory ten days away, produced his finest innings of the season and sealed the occasion with a straight six off left-arm spinner Aron Nijjar to finish on 50 not out from only 29 balls.
Rawlins, who added a further three sixes to go with three fours, dominated an 81-run stand for the unbroken fifth wicket with Ravi Bopara, who was not out on 62, as the Sharks moved into second place in the South Group and within one victory of a place in the quarter-finals
“It’s a huge win and hopefully we can push on now and finish in the top two in the quarter-finals,” Rawlins told Sussex’s official website. “It was quite a tough wicket which spun and [Simon] Harmer bowled really well, so it was nice to come out on top.
“At Hove you can always chase at ten an over and having Ravi Bopara there helped me massively. He just said that we needed to be smart and take the right options and in the end we got there quite comfortably and it was nice to contribute.”
Bopara, the former England player, spent 17 years at Chelmsford before heading to Sussex last year, and came in after captain Luke Wright departed for a first-ball duck and supervised a successful chase of 147 with nine balls to spare.
One win from their two remaining games, away to Hampshire and Kent, will be enough to secure a place in the quarter-finals for Sussex.
They were in trouble after two of their other experienced players, Travis Head and David Wiese, departed cheaply to leave them 67 for four at halfway. But after a skittish start, Rawlins and Bopara took the game away from Essex, despite miserly bowling by spinners Harmer and Nijjar, who had combined figures of three for 34 from 7.3 overs.
Bopara’s 62 came off 46 balls with eight boundaries while Rawlins produced some fireworks at the end, winning the game with a straight six off Nijjar, which took him to a 29-ball fifty.
Earlier, Tom Westley made a half-century on his return after missing Essex’s six previous games but when he was brilliantly caught by Head running in from mid-wicket in the sixteenth over, the Eagles nosedived, losing six wickets for 22 in 23 balls in a total of 146 for nine.
Westley and Michael Pepper had put on 72 from 52 balls for the second wicket after Ollie Robinson had Adam Wheater (6) caught at extra cover with his first ball.
Pepper made 38 before he was beaten in the flight by 16-year-old leg spinner Archie Lenham and Westley contributed 53 off 45 balls, with a six and four boundaries, but once he went a combination of tight bowling and excellent fielding put Sussex in control.
Chris Jordan, back after recovering from a groin injury, took three for 30 and showed all his experience while Robinson, who also had to self-isolate for ten days, picked up two for 15 in his first game back.
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