Sixteen-year-old leg-spinner Archie Lenham took three for 14 as Hampshire were restricted to 154 for seven then Phil Salt and Ravi Bopara both hit unbeaten half-centuries as Sussex eased to their target with 22 balls to spare.
On such a good batting pitch Hampshire needed early wickets to have any chance and although Ian Holland picked up Travis Head (23) in the fourth over, Salt and Bopara matched each other shot for shot in an exhilarating stand of 118 off just 74 balls.
Salt, who made an unbeaten 77 in Friday’s win over Gloucestershire, followed it up with 72 from 44 balls including five sixes and five fours while Bopara made his first half-century since joining Sussex in 2020. He was undefeated on 56 from 42 deliveries, with a six and five fours, when Salt scored the winning runs in the 17th over.
Hampshire skipper James Vince employed seven bowlers and while Mason Crane offered some control, Salt and Bopara did much as they pleased against the rest of the attack. Their partnership has only been bettered three times in Sussex’s T20 history.
It was also a special night for man of the match Lenham, who had become the second-youngest debutant in T20 history in Sussex’s win over Gloucestershire on Friday.
The teenager, whose father Neil and grandfather Les both played for the county, picked up a wicket with his first ball when Tom Alsop (18) holed out to deep mid-wicket.
Lewis McManus (15) fell in similar fashion in Lenham’s second over and wicketkeeper Salt smartly stumped Joe Weatherley (14) to give the teenager his third success. It was a wicket Lenham particularly enjoyed, having dropped Weatherley first ball before he came on to bowl. Salt also produced a stunning one-handed catch behind the stumps to remove Liam Dawson.
The Hawks had been restricted to 35 for one in the powerplay and lost D’Arcy Short to the excellent George Garton, who returned to pick up Holland (11) and finish with two for 11.
Hampshire skipper James Vince had looked in the mood, cruising to 36 off 26 balls before he was bowled trying to heave Will Beer through the leg side but Hampshire struggled for momentum after his departure and although James Fuller (26 not out) produced a cameo at the end which took his side past 150 it never looked enough on a good batting surface.
Chris Jordan, Sussex captain, said: "It's been a really good start for us to the competition for us and I couldn't be happier. I thought we might have restricted them to around 140 when they batted but it was still a very good effort by our bowlers and then Salty and Ravi really attacked the chase and it was comfortable in the end. Archie Lenham should be really proud of himself. He's got good variations and a very big heart... for a 16-year-old to perform like that was great to see."