Haywards Heath withstood 53 overs in the field to beat Chichester on a sweltering day at Clair Park.
The visitors were very happy to win the toss and bat, but Ben Van Rensburg and Jethro Menzies made the going tough for openers Simon Hasted and Matthew Bennison. Van Rensburg bowled with great pace, discipline and aggression on a hard wicket, striking both batsmen on the grill with some well-directed short balls.
Having made their way to 62 without loss Tim Upchurch got the first wicket as Bennison (25) edged behind to Gary Honeysett, and a few overs later Ben Matthew made the most of a breakdown in communication to run out Hasted (27) with a brilliant direct hit.
Abishek Raut joined Joe De La Fuente in the middle and the pair made steady progress against the Heath spin attack. Jonny Phelps bowled nicely to stem the flow of runs but was unable to break the partnership, and this was to be the story for much of the afternoon as the pair rotated strike and took the singles on offer.
Both went passed 50 and built a partnership well in excess of 100, but Heath were comfortable with the rate of scoring on a very good wicket and got a breakthrough just as the boundaries started to flow, Raut (64) taking on Callum Smith only to be caught in the deep.
Chichester couldn’t register many big overs as Heath stood strong in the field and Van Rensburg continued to charge in, taking three wickets in his closing spell to finish with 3 for 57 off 17 overs, including the wicket of De La Fuente who made 81. Chichester finished on 231-7 from their 53 overs.
Jonny Young and Jethro Menzies started the chase with positive intent, hitting strongly through the line of the ball and capitalising on any loose deliveries as they charged to 61 without loss before Young chipped one to a fielder off the leg spin of Raut. Menzies continued to score at pace and struck 13 fours and two sixes in a 65 ball 78 that got Heath well ahead of the rate before he too fell to Raut. The pace of scoring in the early overs allowed Ben Matthew and Jonny Phelps to settle in and play risk free cricket as they took the score past 150.
De La Fuente showed his all-round ability as he picked up the wickets of Matthew (23) and then Smith (6) to bring Chichester back into the game with around 10 overs to go. When he removed Phelps for 46 with the score on 190 for 5 Chichester were in with a sniff, and the tension grew for the home side when Bailey (8) was dismissed next ball by Raut.
Needing 42 to win from about as many balls Stephen Goulds (23*) and Chris Blunt (15) were able to knock off most of the target with a few hefty blows, including a monster of a six from Goulds, before Blunt fell to Matt Geffen with only 8 runs required. Goulds finished off the game in the penultimate over to bring home a hard earned 26 points.