Surrey remain top and will host a home knockout game, but after going unbeaten in all competitions until Thursday night have lost momentum
Chelmsford: Essex 198-7, Surrey 155-9 – Essex win by 43 runs
Michael Pepper continued his Vitality Blast love affair with the Cloud County Ground before Aaron Beard returned career-best numbers as the Essex Eagles condemned Surrey to a second consecutive defeat.
Pepper took his Chelmsford tally to 304 in six sets – and 386 overall – with a crushing 48 as Paul Walter continued his fine form with a 49 as the Eagles deteriorated to 198.
Before fast bowler Beard, in just his second appearance of the season, openers Will Jacks and Jason Roy were crushed to eventually pick up 4 for 29 – as Surrey ran out 43 runs.
Essex have boosted their hopes of securing a quarter-final at home to move to seven wins from 12, while Surrey remain top and will host a knockout tie at home, albeit after being unbeaten in all competitions so far. ‘Thursday night, he lost his momentum.
In a game celebrating Essex Pride, Surrey put the Eagles at bat and Adam Rossington got caught in second, the first two overs lasting just six before Pepper went ballistic.
He hit 30 of the first nine balls he faced, with just a run and a single punctuating his boundary blitz. The South African-born hitter started by picking up a six, something he replicated in the sequel between a hit ball and followed by four straight boundaries off Dan Moriarty.
His strike came to a halt after a strike into the box, from which he never really recovered as he limped a further five runs before returning straight to third – the second wicket in three for Sunil Narine.
Surrey hadn’t lost this season until last night but suffered successive defeats (Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)
Essex’s rebuild and second 10 overs was a classic display of the build-up – with just seven runs, as well as four wickets coming in the second half of innings for 110 runs.
Walter was the chief architect of the score with his 49, which included four towering sixes, while he put up 51 with Dan Lawrence and 44 with Simon Harmer.
Topley made sure his old county didn’t reach 200 as he slurred throughout and added Walter, Daniel Sams and Harmer to his previous dismissal from Rossington to find himself with 4 for 35.
Beard made an electrifying debut picking up both a Roy and Will Jacks – the ball after selecting a new bat – brilliantly caught short-legged and thin by Tom Westley.
Smith and Rory Burns put in 57 with a low-risk approach, keeping pace before Lawrence slapped one on Smith. Burns followed by screwing Beard halfway and Narine fired back at Harmer as Surrey got lost.
Laurie Evans continued the slump when underhand Ben Allison produced a spectacular long-range solo takeover – Harmer grabbing two wickets in the over to come back 2 for 20. Beard had debutant Tom Lawes swooping in halfway through for his fourth.
Sams robbed Chris Jordan and Sam Cook had Conor McKerr as Surrey could only go 155 for 9.
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