NSW reach Super Eight stage
by Jinu Sabastian
DateLine: 11th October 2009
New South Wales became the second team in the competition after Cape Cobras to reach the Super Eight stage. Batting first NSW could only make a sub-par score off 130 in their stipulated 20 overs and it seemed that Sussex might chase down the target, but the pitch combined with accurate New South Wales's bowling attack condemned Sussex to defeat. It was the second time in the tournament that New South Wales was able to restrict the opposition to below 100 run mark.
Winning the toss, Katich had no hesitation in electing to first on a pitch that was expected to get slower and lower as the game proceeded. The opening bowlers for Sussex, Martin-Jenkins and Arafat, understood the pitch before them and bowled accordingly to keep the free-flowing Warner and Hughes quiet. Though Martin-Jenkins erred twice b y slipping down the leg-side twice, Arafat was sensible enough to keep it upto the stumps. Unable to find the boundaries regularly, Hughes and Warner relied on short and sharp singles as they could manage on 30 runs in the powerplay overs. Warner finally fell when Dwayne Smith produced a direct hit from point and then Daniel Smith promoted as pinch-hitter failed when he swung wildly at Chawla to be held at long-on. The innings looked in danger of losing direction at 40 for 2 and NSW had reached only 50 at the half-way stage.
Hughes hit the first six in the 11th over off Chawla over long off, and Henriques began to open up by slog-sweeping over deep midwicket. NSW took 17 runs off the 11th over and appeared to be back on track. Henriques repeated his six hitting attempts by launching Rory Hamilton-Brown over extra cover and clearing the long-on boundary off James Kirtley. Dwayne Smith, Arafat and Kirtley, however, bowled a nagging line, giving Hughes and Henriques no room to work with. Both batsmen crossed their respective half-centuries but were simply unable to provide the final push needed to take NSW to a match-winning total.
Sussex in reply lost their stand-in captain to a fired-up Lee to a ball that refused to get up from the pitch. The English county side could have been in deeper trouble had Lee managed to hold on to sharp return catch off Hamilton-Brown. But the Sussex batsmen could not break free as the NSW bowlers seemed to have a vice-like grip over the proceedings. If the powerplay produced only 30 runs for NSW, for Sussex it produced only 26 runs. With the introduction of leg-spinner Steve Smith, Hamilton-Brown tried to take on the bowler but was stranded well short off his crease.
The entry of big-hitting Dwayne Smith gave some impetus to the Sussex innings as he played some powerful shots to midwicket and long-on and it seemed that Smith might run away with the match. Katich brought back Bollinger and the left arm seamer responded by castling the dangerous Smith for 13. Henriques then continued his good match by removing Nash and Chawla off successive balls to reduce Sussex to 64 for 5 and the writing was very much on the wall. With the rest off the batsmen unable to do anything off much note, New South Wales did not have much trouble in claiming their second win off the tournament and progressing to the Super Eight stage.