Eagles soar to emphatic 7 wicket victory
An unbroken fourth-wicket stand of 77 from 53 balls between Grant Flower and skipper James Foster took Essex Eagles to an emphatic seven-wicket Twenty20 Cup win over Sussex at Hove.
The Eagles improved their chances of qualifying for the quarter-finals by easing to a target of 145 with three overs in hand.
It proved a straightforward task for Zimbabwean Flower (39) and Foster (41) before a subdued crowd of 5,000 in the floodlit contest.
The Sharks' fourth successive defeat all but ends their interest in the competition, and in all cricket this season they have won only two matches.
Sussex, for whom Murray Goodwin top-scored with 47, struggled on a slow pitch and disastrously lost their last seven wickets for 21 runs in 21 deliveries.
Graham Napier gave Essex the perfect platform by blasting 37 from only 18 balls with four fours and three sixes.
Napier, who came in when Jason Gallian was taken at backward point in only the second over, holed out at deep backward square leg attempting a third successive six off Dwayne Smith.
Goodwin, who struck four fours and a six over midwicket off spinner James Middlebrook, added 69 in nine overs for the fourth wicket with Matt Prior, whose 35 came off 31 deliveries.
The former Zimbabwe star's 44-ball innings was ended when he was bowled by leg-spinner Danish Kaneria, who earlier trapped skipper Chris Adams leg before for just two as the Sussex skipper attempted to reverse sweep.
Sussex, who chose to bat, lost Chris Nash to the fourth ball of the innings with Napier pinning him in front, and Goodwin and West Indies all-rounder Smith then added 44 in seven overs before Smith was caught behind off Maurice Chambers' first ball. He had hit 28 from only 20 balls.
Sussex's hopes of an explosive finish were wrecked with Goodwin's dismissal and the last four wickets added only five runs.
After Rory Hamilton-Brown fell to Napier in the penultimate over, Sussex lost three wickets off the final three balls of their innings with Will Beer and last man James Kirtley both being run out.