Luke Wright struck his second half-century of the Vitality Blast to send Sussex Sharks second in the South Group with a 13-run victory over ‘El Clasicoast’ rivals Hampshire.
Sharks skipper Wright sailed to the top of the Blast run-scoring charts with a classy 83 to help his side to 159 for five.
Former Hampshire spinner Danny Briggs led the defence with 2-20 as Hampshire endured an unhappy first return to the Ageas Bowl in 2020 - while Sussex continued their six-year T20 dominance at the ground.
James Vince won the toss for the hosts and elected to field first on a used wicket, with vast boundaries and the promise of dew to help a chase under the lights.
Sussex’s innings, and eventually victory, was largely defined by two factors; Wright and David Wiese’s fourth-wicket partnership and Hampshire’s below average fielding.
The former came about after debutant Calum McLeod was run out in the first over, Delray Rawlins was brilliantly caught by Sam Northeast running and catching over his shoulder from point and Ravi Bopara fell.
The latter haunted the hosts throughout the innings, whether it be James Vince allowing through his long barrier or the six chances spilt.
Bopara was dropped by Joe Weatherley, Harrison put down three caught and bowled efforts along with Chris Jordan at long-on and James Fuller grounded Wright on 57.
Sussex initially struggled for boundaries, as they could only reach 39 for two in the powerplay before failing to reach the ropes in the following six overs – thanks mainly to Mason Crane’s four overs offering a miserly 22 runs.
That problem quickly abated when Wiese joined Wright – the South African hoisting 22-year-old leg-spinning debutant Calvin Harrison – who celebrated Bopara as his maiden professional wicket – back over his head.
Wright was more circumspect, his only maximum coming in the last two overs, although still reached his half-century in a speedy 39 balls.
Former England international Wright has enjoyed a profitable start to the Vitality Blast with 31, 40 and a match-winning 82 against Hampshire at Hove, in his first four previous innings.
Wiese and Wright added 74 together before the former was caught on the square-leg boundary.
But the run-scoring didn’t stop there as Wright, who now has 240 runs in the competition, helped take 16 runs off Pakistan overseas Shaheen Shah Afridi’s final over, although he did depart to the last ball of the innings.
Vince had missed Hampshire’s other nine fixture across the Bob Willis Trophy and the Vitality Blast this season due to England commitments and the birth of his second child.
He returned with boundaries off George Garton and Briggs – but his former Hampshire academy team-mate Briggs stopped the aggressive streak when Vince chipped to extra cover.
Tom Alsop and Sam Northeast seemed to find runs easy to come by without taking any risks, the left-right hand combination accumulating 44 in 34 balls.
Northeast chopped onto his own stumps, but Alsop continued his quiet growth while finding the square boundaries most profitable.
After adding 37 with Weatherley before Alsop was caught for 43 in the deep by Bopara, with James Fuller caught and bowled by the brilliant Briggs.
Weatherley was castled by Chris Jordan, with the rate quickly getting away from Hampshire.
After tight death bowling from Jordan and Tymal Mills, Hampshire needed 24 from the final over – and after Lewis McManus was caught at mid-on, Sussex had the match in the bag.
Wright said: “It was an important win after the break to win here especially as the conditions were very much against us.
“The feedback we got from Chris Jordan with England was that it would get under the lights even though it was so used.
“From that point of view everyone did a great job.
“For me David Wiese was the man of the match. He changed the game, no one else struck the ball like him on that wicket.
“For me that was perfect as it allowed me to anchor the innings and try and go at the end. He is an unbelievable player and always does it when we need him.
“My last game before this season was in November but I am lucky I’m not a person who hits lots of balls, I’m more feely with my batting.
“It is nice to come in and contribute, that is what I need to do as captain.”
Watch all of the highlights from the match here: