Finch, Marsh, Handscomb, Bancroft all star on opening day of county T20 tournament
Australia batsmen Aaron Finch and Shaun Marsh have made the perfect starts to their respective county stints, each smashing match-wining half-centuries on a thrilling opening day of England's domestic T20 tournament.
Finch (56 off 27 balls) peppered a Mohammad Amir-led Essex attack for three sixes to fire Surrey to a narrow victory, while Marsh (60 not out off 37) led Yorkshire to their highest-ever T20 total against Nottinghamshire.
The destructive Finch brought up his fifty off just 23 balls, eventually edging behind in the ninth over with Surrey reaching 8-188 after Dominic Sibley's 40-ball 61.
While Essex allrounder Ravi Bopara (75 off 46) reduced the equation to 10 required off the last six balls, recent England debutant Tom Curran removed Bopara and Ashar Zaidi (18 off 13) in the final over to seal the win.
Surrey, already boasting a top-order featuring Finch and England opener Jason Roy, were without Kumar Sangakkara (nursing a hand injury) and Kevin Pietersen, who is set to play his first match in his final English season on July 19.
The London-based club will also welcome back Australia allrounder Moises Henriques, who's set to replace Sangakkara for the latter part of the T20 competition, rejoining the county where he suffered a fractured jaw in a collision with teammate Rory Burns in a T20 game two years ago.
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Marsh, making his county debut, powered Yorkshire to 5-227 with an unbeaten 37-ball 60, teaming up with fellow Test batsman Peter Handscomb (21 off seven balls) who struck three sixes in an explosive cameo.
The mammoth total proved too much for Nottinghamshire, captained by Australian allrounder Dan Christian, falling 48 runs short after reaching 8-179.
At Cheltenham, another pair of Antipodeans – Western Australian duo Michael Klinger and Cameron Bancroft – also combined for successful returns but it wasn't quite enough to get Gloucestershire over the line against Middlesex.
After 25 wickets fell on the opening day of a County Championship match earlier in the week at the same venue, each side racked up 182 off their 20 overs in an exhilarating tie.
Incredibly, Middlesex had needed 59 from the final four overs with just two wickets left before No.7 Ryan Higgins smashed 68 off just 28 balls. However, he lost the strike for the final ball with one run required, with Nathan Sowter dismissed by Ben Howell to see the match end in a stalemate.
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Earlier, Klinger crashed 20 off 11 balls opening the batting before New Zealand quick Tim Southee removed him, while Bancroft impressed with a 31-ball 51.
Elsewhere, George Bailey hit an unbeaten 37 off 35 deliveries to see Hampshire home by 22 runs over Glamorgan, while John Hastings went wicketless in Worcestershire's defeat to the Birmingham Bears.
County T20 results: