Result, The Ageas Bowl: Sussex 127-4 (Brown 42) beat Hampshire 126-9 (Alsop 64; Archer 4-18) by six wickets with 16 balls remaining
Jofra Archer took a career-best 4-18 to help Sussex cruise to a six-wicket victory over joint South Group leaders Hampshire, their first of the Natwest T20 Blast this season.
22-year-old Archer, playing in just his second senior season, turned the match for his side in a win where early wickets proved the difference.
He removed captain and opener James Vince for just three, spooning to cover, and then Sean Ervine top-edging a pull, the pair two of four powerplay wickets.
Tom Alsop was the only man to offer resistance with 64, his biggest partnership formed with Lewis McManus worth 48, but Archer removed the top-scorer ramping to short fine leg, before bowling Kyle Abbott with a good yorker.
The hosts were restricted to just 126 and Sussex chased a considerably below par target with ease.
Luke Wright fell in the first over, leaving one from Reece Topley that nipped back and trapped the opener lbw on the back foot, but Hampshire were unable to make further inroads until it was too late.
Sussex batted patiently, hitting no sixes, but smartly given the low chase – they were ahead of the run-a-ball rate by the end of the second over and never fell back below.
Ben Brown hit 42, driving nicely and working a pair of boundaries through the legside. He reverse paddled Shahid Afridi for four before being trapped lbw the following delivery.
Opener Chris Nash was watchful but often busy, hitting just three fours in his 29-ball 32. George Bailey dropped him at midwicket on 12, the Australian getting his right hand to it but parrying to the rope.
He eventually went, top edging to cover trying to push Mason Crane to mid-wicket, the score 87-3 when he departed. Skipper Ross Taylor was run out by a James Vince direct hit looking for a quick single with just 13 required.
But Laurie Evans (24*) hit the winning runs as he and Chris Jordan (2*) helped guide Sussex home, lifting them off the bottom of the South Group table.
Earlier, Alsop’s knock had been the only notable one in Hampshire’s effort, occupying the crease for much of the innings.
He opened his account with back-to-back sixes off Tymal Mills – making his first senior appearance in 2017 – cut away over backward point, soon after clipping and cutting Jofra Archer for a pair of boundaries.
Alsop – replacing Michael Carberry – had 30 of his side’s powerplay 45 and proceeded to nurdle former Hampshire man Danny Briggs, who bowled very tidily to take two wickets for just 17, conceding no boundaries – his most economical T20 spell since playing against Sussex here four years ago.
Consecutive fours brought up Alsop’s fifty from 30 deliveries, and he was soon given a life, dropped at deep midwicket by David Wiese on 63, but Sussex weren’t made to pay with the batsman out in the following over just a run later.
Alsop and McManus’ partnership was critical in giving Hampshire even a sniff of hope, coming together in the fifth over after Sussex made light work of the hosts’ top order.
Rilee Rossouw fell in the opening over, lofting one to mid off where Archer took a smart catch moving 20 yards back and to his right, before Vince’s wicket.
George Bailey went just before Ervine in the same fashion, top-edging a pull to fine leg – Alsop was the only man in the top five to make double figures.
McManus played on off Briggs for 12 who then trapped Afridi – failing to produce the firework display of batting he’s known for – lbw for just eight.
Kyle Abbott struck two boundaries before being bowled by Archer with Fidel Edwards, brought in with Gareth Berg suffering food poisoning, pulling Hampshire’s third six to push them above 120.