Wright leads charge as Sussex win El Classicoast

An explosive knock of 82 from captain Luke Wright and 43 not out from David Wiese guided Sussex to a thrilling six-wicket victory over Hampshire in the ‘El Classicoast clash at Hove.’

Luke Wright has had a great start to the Vitality Blast / Picture: Getty
Luke Wright has had a great start to the Vitality Blast / Picture: Getty

Wright who was dropped on two, made 82 off just 55 balls to set up Sussex’s chase and was ably supported by Phil Salt (27) and Wiese, with Sussex winning with just one ball to spare.

Earlier, Danny Briggs took superb figures of 3-17 from his allocation against his old county before an 88-run partnership from James Fuller and Ian Holland took the hosts to 176/5.

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The Sharks made just one change from their rained-off opener versus Surrey with Wiese in for Aaron Thomason, the South African all-rounder making his first appearance of the season.

Wright won the toss and stuck unchanged Hampshire in, with the decision immediately vindicated when George Garton removed overseas opener George Munsey for a duck off the second ball of the innings when the Scotsman was caught by a tumbling Wiese after skying a shot off the left-armer.

The Hove pitch seemed to be giving Hampshire problems early on and it wasn’t long before the visitors lost their second when Sam Northeast was dismissed for seven after receiving a quick bouncer from Tymal Mills which took the shoulder of the bat and was caught by Briggs.

The visitors recovered from their tough start with Tom Alsop and Joe Weatherley adding some quick runs towards the end of the powerplay to leave them 45/2 from six overs but Sussex halted their progress the following over after the latter was caught for nine on the boundary by Ollie Robinson off Briggs.

Alsop held the innings together for Hampshire early on as wickets fell around him, the opener hitting 15 off Will Beer’s first over which took the visitors to 70/3 from nine overs.

His teammates failed to stick with him with wicketkeeper Lewis McManus bowled by Briggs for two in the following over. Alsop brought up a well-made half-century but fell to the impressive Briggs when he was caught on the short boundary by Robinson for 51 to leave the visitors in trouble at 88/5.

This brought Fuller and Holland together which ended up being the pair to catapult Hampshire to a competitive total of 176/5 as they added 88 runs for the sixth wicket in just eight overs. 59 runs came the from the final five as Fuller finished on 53 from 31 balls, his first T20 fifty and was ably supported by USA international Holland who finished on 36 from 22 balls.

In reply, the Sharks openers got off to an explosive start, smashing 70 off the first six overs with Wright bringing up his half-century off 27 balls in the following over with a pull shot for four off Ryan Stevenson.

Hampshire looked to be struggling for options to get a breakthrough but some poor calling between the wickets handed them their first wicket as Salt was run out for 27 off the bowling of Mason Crane after Wright charged through for a second run which wasn’t there, leaving the young opener well short of his ground.

The Sharks looked to keep up the run-rate with Delray Rawlins coming in at three, but he wasn’t around for long as he was caught for eight off Crane at long-on to put the brakes on a quick start.

This brought the returning Wiese to the crease, who along with Wright further accelerated to put the hosts in touching distance of victory but the skipper looked to be out on 74 when he was caught off a high full-toss off Stevenson - but after the umpires came together they ruled the delivery to be a no-ball. To rub further salt into the wounds, Wright leathered the next ball for six.

The pair continued to knock off the runs required, but Wright couldn’t see his side home as he was caught off a Chris Wood full toss for 82 which gave Hampshire a slight boost going into the final overs.

Hampshire then bowled themselves into the game with Wood having five runs coming off the penultimate over to leave Sussex needing six from six.

Fuller looked to be the hero again for Hampshire as he trapped Ravi Bopara leg-before for four off the first ball of the final over before conceding just two runs off the next three balls.

However, Harry Finch was able to pull the following ball from the all-rounder for four to seal the game to calm the nerves of the Sussex players and fans to give the Sharks the first win of the campaign.

Skipper Wright said: "It would have been a cracker of a match with a crowd here - lots of sixes, lots of broken windows. When a game goes to the last couple of balls it’s disappointing that there are not people here to watch it. But it’s great to get a win. It was closer than we wanted it to be at the end but the lads did really well."

The Sharks' next game sees them travel to Lord’s to take on Middlesex on Tuesday, 6:15pm start.