Magnificent half-centuries from James Fuller and Tom Alsop proved to be in vain as Sussex captain Luke Wright’s thunderous innings of 82 helped Sussex Sharks beat Hampshire by six wickets with one ball to spare in the Vitality Blast.
Wright and Phil Salt had put on 89 for the first wicket in just eight overs – the normally dominating Salt was on 23 when Wright reached his half-century.
But there was drama in the last over, when Sussex still needed six to win. Ravi Bopara was out lbw to the first delivery, bowled by James Fuller. New batsman Harry Finch then hit a single to leave five off four. David Wiese pulled to the leg-side boundary for another single.
But when Fuller bowled a dot ball to Finch Sussex suddenly needed four runs off two balls. But the Sussex batsman pulled the penultimate delivery of the game to square-leg for four. Wiese was left unbeaten with a cool-headed 43.
One of Wright’s sixes broke a flat window outside the east side of the ground, something Fuller had achieved in the Hampshire innings as both sides exploited the short boundary there.
Wright hit eight fours and four sixes and when he was out in the 17th over Sussex needed just another 22 runs for victory. Wright and Salt, with two sixes apiece, took 29 runs from Fuller’s opening over. But the Hampshire all-rounder had ensured this would be a meaningful match with a rapid fifty of his own earlier in the day.
Hampshire got off to a difficult start when George Munsey was out second ball, well caught by the returning Wiese at mid-on off George Garton. And the Hampshire innings continued to falter, with just one of the first five batsmen reaching double figures.
They lost their second wicket in the fourth over when Sam Northeast, surprised by the bounce of a Tymal Mills delivery was caught at backward point. And it was 49 for three when Joe Weatherley was caught on the leg-side boundary by Ollie Robinson to give Danny Briggs the first of his three wickets.
The first half of the Hampshire innings was held together by Tom Alsop, who took few risks in compiling a 42-ball fifty, with seven fours. He lost his fourth partner, Lewis McManus, at 77, and he was out himself immediately after reaching his half-century to make it 88 for five in the 13th over.
The Hampshire innings was then transformed by some strong- arm tactics from Fuller, who made an unbeaten 53 from just 31 deliveries, with five sixes and a four. Garton went for three sixes in the space of five deliveries. Fuller was well supported by Ian Holland, who made a 22-ball 36 not out. Robinson was the most expensive of the Sussex bowlers, his four overs going for 47 runs.