Sussex suffered a first defeat of this season’s T20 campaign as they lost by 18 runs at home to Hampshire.
Having started the competition with back-to-back wins against Surrey and Middlesex, the Sharks were hoping to make it three from three.
But a good contest saw Hampshire – finalists in each of the last four years – post a total of 177-5 which ultimately proved too much for Sussex despite a knock of 56 from skipper Ed Joyce.
Having won the toss and opted to bat Hampshire made a blistering start led by their T20 captain James Vince.
Jimmy Adams and Vince smacked 33 off the first three overs and although the former was out for 19 – top-edging a Chris Liddle delivery to Rory Hamilton-brown – Vince continued the onslaught, bringing up the 50 in the fifth over and reaching his own half century in the seventh with a big six off Michael Yardy.
Vince eventually departed for 52 off 31 balls in the tenth over, by which time Sussex had begun to put the brakes on thanks largely to an unrewarded spell by Will Beer whose four overs went for 21.
Adam Wheater (34 off 25 balls) added some important runs but it was the experienced pair of Owais Shah and Sean Ervine who did the most damage to Sussex’s hopes once Vince had gone.
Shah anchored down at one end while Ervine played his shots, the pick of them being a dilscoop off Yasir Arafat and a huge six over mid-wicket the following over bowled by Liddle.
Ervine’s 38 off 23 balls helped the final Hampshire total along to 177-5, Arafat claiming two wickets in the penultimate over.
After losing Matt Machan in the second over, Luke Wright and Joyce put on 32 in the next three overs with the former clubbing 4, 6, 4 off the first three balls of Chris Wood’s second over.
His departure to a steepling catch by Adams in the next over was a big blow but Joyce and Hamilton-Brown took up the challenge, piecing together a third-wicket stand of 58 off seven overs before the latter was bowled by Will Smith for 34.
Ben Brown proved an able partner, adding 19 in a fourth-wicket stand of 32 to set up a tense finish but once he departed the boundaries dried up and the innings fizzled out.
Joyce brought up his 50 off 41 balls in the 18th over but was bowled by Wood for 56 the following over.