|Vitality Blast quarter-final, 1st Central County Ground:|
|Sussex 184-6 (20 overs): Salt 72, Evans 43*; Barnard 2-21|
|Worcestershire 187-2 (17.4 overs): Moeen 121*, Wessels 47|
|Worcestershire won by eight wickets|
Moeen Ali smashed an unbeaten 121 off 60 balls as holders Worcestershire beat Sussex by eight wickets to reach T20 Blast Finals Day in spectacular style.
The England all-rounder hit 11 sixes and eight fours to ensure they easily chased down a target of 185 at Hove.
Riki Wessels (47) shared a second-wicket stand of 177 with Moeen as the Rapids won with 14 balls to spare.
Phil Salt had earlier struck 72 off 40 balls as Sussex posted 184-5, with Laurie Evans also making 43 not out.
Moeen’s incredible innings ensured Worcestershire will return to Finals Day at Edgbaston on 21 September for a second successive year with a chance of becoming the first side to retain the T20 trophy.
In a repeat of last year’s final, Sussex looked like getting revenge as Salt and Luke Wright (28) got them off to a fast start with an opening partnership of 84 inside nine overs.
But the Sharks stuttered in the middle overs, slumping from 108-1 to 133-5, as Ed Barnard (2-21) and Pat Brown both proved hard to get away with their medium pace.
Moeen magic stuns Sussex
Worcestershire’s reply looked in strife as early as the third ball when Reece Topley bowled Joe Leach with a beauty, but it just hastened Moeen’s arrival at the crease for what was to follow.
After he survived being dropped on just five by Australia wicketkeeper Alex Carey, he powered his way to 50 off just 30 balls and then reached his century 20 balls later.
By the time the Rapids had reached their target in the 18th over, the left-hander had clubbed his 11th and final six to leave a sold-out Hove crowd stunned.
It was only his second T20 century, but his first in the T20 Blast surpassing his previous competition best of 85 not out last month against Birmingham Bears.
Since being left out of England’s Ashes squad after defeat in the opening Test at Edgbaston, Moeen has made three scores of 50 or more in just five innings.
To make Worcestershire’s victory even more impressive, it was the first time since 2010 that a score of 180 or more had been successfully chased in a T20 match at Hove.
They join Essex Eagles and Notts Outlaws at Finals Day where Gloucestershire or Derbyshire will complete the line-up after Saturday’s last quarter-final.
Sussex captain Luke Wright:
“You need to take your catches early on, especially with a player of Moeen’s quality.
“But Alex Carey got us into the quarter-finals, he’s been absolutely outstanding. But we have to take our hats off to Moeen.
“I’m a massive Mo fan and that was world-class out there. Those wickets [in the middle] knocked the stuffing out of us. We were trying to get up to 200, but I was still happy at the halfway stage.”
Worcestershire captain Moeen Ali:
“It was good to do that against a top side in a quarter-final.
“We were missing a number of players – we have match-winners in our team, even with some missing.
“We have built up some momentum last year and this year and now we are back in the finals.”