Rashid Khan’s brilliant unbeaten 27 off nine balls fired Sussex Sharks to Vitality Blast Finals Day as they chased 178 in a pulsating quarter-final against Yorkshire at Durham’s Emirates Riverside.
After Yorkshire posted 177 for seven, Afghanistan’s spin superstar came in at 135 for four after 16.3 overs, with 43 required.
Khan mixed power with invention, hitting three fours and two sixes, before Chris Jordan hit the winning runs - the game sealed by five wickets with two balls remaining after Luke Wright’s excellent 54 off 39 at the top of the order.
Out comes the Helicopter! 🚁 pic.twitter.com/892D2E7Pr4— Sussex Cricket (@SussexCCC) August 24, 2021
Yorkshire were indebted to 55 apiece for Gary Ballance and opener Tom Kohler-Cadmore on a true pitch with short boundaries.
After the Vikings slipped to 33 for three after five overs, left-handed Ballance found fluency quickly as Kohler-Cadmore struggled for rhythm.
After getting Harry Brook lbw sweeping for one, leg-spinner Khan (one for 25) was played with comfort.
Ballance pulled him over midwicket for six to reach a 34-ball fifty.
Alongside Brook’s departure, Yorkshire lost Adam Lyth and captain David Willey cheaply to Archie Lenham and Tymal Mills.
Mills finished with three for 39. Kohler-Cadmore, meanwhile, reached his fifty off 47 balls.
Wright came out with serious intent in a bid to put a huge dent in the chase. And it worked, with the Sharks reaching 53 without loss after six overs.
He pulled Matthew Fisher for a vicious flat six over midwicket before being dropped on 31 off Matthew Waite - a skied catch to wicketkeeper Harry Duke with the last ball of the powerplay.
Jordan Thompson ended a 72-run opening stand in his first over - the ninth - when Phil Salt found long-on for 27.
Wright reached his fifty off 32 balls early in the 11th before Duke atoned for his earlier error with a fine one-handed catch to help Thompson get rid of Ravi Bopara - 91 for two.
Adil Rashid bowled a sweeping Wright early in the 13th over, leaving the score at 111 for three with 67 still needed.
That target later became 56 off five at 122 for three with David Wiese and Delray Rawlins together.
Fisher bowled Rawlins for 27, leaving Sussex at 135 for four and needing 43 off 21.
But Khan crashed sixes off Fisher and Thompson, one brilliantly over long-on, and took Willey for three fours in a telling penultimate over to leave only six needed off the last.
Unfortunately, he will not be available for next month’s Edgbaston showpiece on Saturday 18th September.
Sussex’s player of the match Rashid Khan said:
“I just needed to back my skills, and thanks to the coaching staff for sending me in a bit earlier to finish the game.
“I tried my best to stay still and do the basics right - to hit my own ball. They bowled where I wanted it, and I finished it off well.
“I’m so happy to see the team in the finals twice since I’ve been in the team (the other 2018).
“But it’s a shame I won’t be available for them at Finals Day. Every player would love to be there.”
Ticket details for the Sharks trip to Finals Day will be announced in the coming days.
Daniel Bell-Drummond’s finely crafted 82 spearheaded Kent Spitfires to a first Vitality Blast final since 2008 with a 21-run victory over Sussex Sharks.
A 14-player Sussex Sharks squad has been named for Vitality Blast Finals Day at Edgbaston on Saturday.
The Professional Cricketers’ Trust is set to take centre stage on Vitality Blast Finals Day this Saturday, with the Mascot Race headlining the fundraising activities that will be taking place on the day.