GRAEME McCarter took his first five-wicket T20 haul as Gloucestershire claimed a thrilling four-run win over Sussex in the NatWest T20 Blast at Hove on Friday.
Ian Cockbain smashed 84 from just 51 balls as the visitors set a formidable total of 189-6 after being put in to bat.
That looked highly unlikely as Sussex slumped to 132-7 with five overs to go despite a 32-ball 49 from Rory Hamilton-Brown.
Steffan Piolet and Will Beer almost pulled off what would have been a sensational win as together they reduced the equation to ten off the last six balls.
Piolet was out for 25 from the second ball of Graeme McCarter’s (5-35) final over and Beer - who blasted 37 from 17 balls – was unable to hit the last ball for six to get Sussex over the line.
Sussex had made a decent start with the ball with Yasir Arafat knocking out Alex Gidman’s middle stump for 11 in the third over.
It all went downhill from there for the hosts though as Michael Klinger and Cockbain put on 102 for the second wicket off just 67 balls.
Cockbain dominated the partnership as he reached only his fourth 50 from 34 balls before really starting to cut loose.
He launched Will Beer for two sixes over extra cover off consecutive balls and Gloucestershire’s run rate did not drop once Klinger was caught on the long on boundary having made 28 off 30 balls.
Cockbain was dropped on 70 by Lewis Hatchett and made Sussex pay by launching another big six off Stefan Piolet before holing out on the mid-wicket boundary having made 84 off 51 deliveries.
Rather than slowing Gloucestershire down they actually accelerated. Geraint Jones smashed a towering six which cleared the pavilion while Hamish Marshall also hit a six as the visitors scored 66 from the last five overs to post a daunting total of 189-6.
Sussex’s hopes of chasing down such a big total were already in disarray after four overs as they lost Luke Wright and Ed Joyce in successive balls.
Wright was bowled by Graeme McCarter’s first ball for 10 and Joyce chipped the next delivery to mid-on for a golden duck.
Matt Machan and Hamilton-Brown added 51 for the third wicket before Machan fell for 34 and Sussex’s hopes looked over when Hamilton-Brown, Ben Brown and Arafat all departed in the space of five Jack Taylor (3-24) balls.
Chris Nash made 20 when he was run out to bring Beer to the crease to join Piolet. Beer crashed Benny Howell and Liam Norwell for sixes as he got Sussex right back into the game.
The Sharks needed 22 off the last two overs and got that down to ten from the last six balls to make them marginal favourites.
There was no dramatic ending to match the last-ball victory against Surrey at Hove, however, as Piolet was dismissed for 25 off the second ball.
Chris Liddle edged a four to get the equation down to five off the last two balls but Liddle and Beer both holed out going for the decisive blow.