Wright and Wiese lead Sharks charge before bowlers deny Hampshire
A superb all-round performance saw Sussex Sharks return to winning ways in the T20 Blast with a 13-run victory over Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl.
Luke Wright and David Wiese helped recover Sussex from 57/3 to help post a moderate total of 159/5 - before some excellent bowling in the latter overs won the game for the Sharks after the hosts looked to be cruising to victory.
Sussex made three changes from their one-run defeat to Kent, Ben Brown taking the gloves in place of Phil Salt who had been called up into the England ODI bubble earlier in the week. Two internationals came into the side with Chris Jordan making his first appearance of the season as well as a debut for overseas signing Calum MacLeod.
After losing the toss and being put into bat by the hosts, the Sharks got off to a terrible start with Scotsman MacLeod run out for one in the second over after a horrible mix-up with captain Wright left him stranded in the middle of the pitch before Delray Rawlins sliced a shot off the bowling of Ian Holland and was caught by Hampshire captain Sam Northeast for 10.
The hosts continued to bowl efficiently as Wright and new batsman Ravi Bopara could only add 38 runs in 6.3 overs before the latter was out for 14, caught by a superbly timed jump by James Vince off the bowling of T20 debutant Calvin Harrison.
It was Wiese and Wright, the Sharks main stars with the bat thus far in the tournament, who got them going, adding a 74-run stand for the fifth wicket with the Sharks skipper making his second T20 half-century of the tournament.
Wiese was eventually dismissed for 41, caught on the boundary by Joe Weatherley off the bowling of Chris Wood - the South African had been batting at a strike-rate of 157, which considering the tough batting conditions, was remarkable.
Wright picked up where Wiese left off, adding 23 runs in two overs but fell off the final ball of the innings, caught by Harrison off Wood for 83.
Sussex got off to a good start with the ball, Danny Briggs continuing his fine form by having Vince caught by MacLeod for 10 in the second over but the hosts were otherwise able to make it out the powerplay unscathed, finishing their first six overs at 43/1.
Tom Alsop and Northeast looked to be cruising in the early stages, but Sussex broke through via spin once again, this time Will Beer, the leg-spinner removing the latter for 17 after the Hampshire captain chopped the ball on to his stumps.
The hosts still looked on top in their chase as Alsop and Joe Weatherley added 37 for the third wicket but the Sharks struck again to halt their progress, Tymal Mills having Alsop caught on the boundary by Bopara for 43 to leave the hosts at 96/3.
The Sharks made another breakthrough just two overs later when James Fuller was dismissed for four after top-edging a full toss straight back to Briggs as the leg-spinner finished with excellent figures of 2-20 from his allocation.
Some superb bowling towards the death from Briggs and Beer meant that Hampshire needed 44 from the final four overs and that equation was made harder when Jordan bowled Weatherley for 25 with a full delivery which knocked the middle stump out the ground out in the process.
Holland and Lewis McManus gave the hosts some hope with the 18th and 19th over going for a combined total of 17 runs, leaving Hampshire needing to complete an unlikely task of 20 runs from the final over.
Mills made sure of victory when he dismissed McManus for 14, the Hampshire keeper caught by Rawlins after miscuing a slower ball before he denied Holland the three sixes he needed from the final three balls as Sussex won by 13 runs to keep their finals hopes alive.
Skipper Wright was delighted with the victory. He said: It was an important win after the break especially as the conditions were very much against us.
“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 to 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.”