Sussex 184 for 8 (Carey 78) beat Somerset 171 for 5 (Babar 83, Banton 51) by 13 runs
Alex Carey marked his Sussex Sharks debut with a brilliant 78 to set up a 13-run Vitality Blast victory over Somerset at Taunton.
Australian Carey cracked seven fours and four sixes in a 46-ball innings that entertained a crowd of 7,400. Laurie Evans and David Wiese gave good support in a score of 184 for 8 after losing the toss, while Lewis Gregory claimed 3 for 30.
In reply, Somerset could make only 171 for 5, despite an opening stand of 96 in less than 12 overs by Babar Azam, who struck 83 off 50 balls, and Tom Banton, who reached 51 off 45. Tymal Mills was the most economical Sussex bowler with 1 for 27 from 4 overs.
The Sharks had managed only 34 for 2 in their six-over power play, losing the wickets of Phil Salt, caught at extra cover off the second ball of the innings, sent down by Max Waller, and Luke Wright, bowled off stump by Jerome Taylor, who had dropped him off Gregory two overs earlier.
But the arrival of Carey soon changed the tempo of the innings. The left-hander hit the first six of the match over mid-wicket off Roelof van der Merwe in the eighth over. Soon Carey was timing the ball sweetly and he took a particular liking to the left-arm spin of van der Merwe, lofting him for two straight sixes in the 11th over.
Evans provided positive support, claiming a maximum off Craig Overton’s bowling before being caught at deep cover off Somerset’s young left-arm seamer Tom Lammonby, having faced 27 balls and added 73 with Carey.
The Aussie went to an impressive fifty from 30 deliveries, with four fours and two sixes, in the 14th over. And, with Wiese also striking the ball cleanly, 49 runs came off just four overs before Carey was brilliantly caught by Lammonby at long-off.
It had been an eventful week for Carey, who played in the World Cup but missed out on selection in Australia’s final Ashes squad then had to fly to Geneva to renew his visa so that he could play for Sussex.
“It was a crazy build-up to the game for me,” Carey said. “Australia’s Ashes camp in Hampshire did not end until Thursday night and on Friday I travelled to Sussex, but could only watch the game because I didn’t have my visa stamped. To get that done, I had to fly to Geneva at 8 o’clock Saturday morning. I flew back last night and travelled to Taunton today.
“Although things did not work out for Australia in the World Cup, I really enjoyed the experience and have been loving my time in England. Today has built on that.”
Gregory was the successful bowler at the start of the 19th over, which also saw him dismiss Weisse with the next ball after the batsmen had crossed, caught at deep mid-wicket, and clean bowl Delray Rawlins with the fourth delivery.
Sussex lost two late batsmen to run outs by Somerset wicketkeeper Tom Banton but still added 15 to their total off the last over.
Somerset were given an encouraging start by Banton and Babar, the pair taking the score to 49 after six overs.
Both players quickly gauged the pace of the pitch. Banton swept Danny Briggs for a flat six over deep square in the seventh over and soon Babar cleared the ropes too with a big hit over long-on off the same bowler.
At the halfway stage, Somerset were well placed at 85 without loss. But Mills stemmed the flow of runs by conceding only three from the 11th over.
Banton hit six fours and a six on the way to his fifty, but the next delivery saw him caught at short fine-leg top-edging an attempted pull off Ollie Robinson.
Babar then brought up his second Blast half-century in as many home games, having faced 32-balls and hit five fours and a six.
Peter Trego smashed Rashid Khan for a maximum over mid-wicket, but with five overs left Somerset still required 67 and when Babar fell to Khan in the 18th over, the home side’s last chance had gone.