Nathan McAndrew says Sussex look like a new team in T20.

Sharks are top of the Vitality Blast south group after winning four of their first five games.

They were impressive eight-wicket victors over Essex in Chelmsford last night.

Surrey head to the 1st Central County Ground this evening before a sell-out crowd of 4,800.

Sussex disappointed in the shortest format last year but McAndrew, who took 3-33 at Essex, said: “I think there is a bit of a mindset change from last year.

“There’s almost an expectation to win, it’s almost the new Sussex in a way.

“There have been a couple of tough years for the club in the past, but last year we saw the red-ball team change their fortune.

“I’m amazed how some of our young players have taken to T20 cricket because it’s not an easy game for young players.

“There’s so much happening, there’s so much to process mentally and it does often take time to build up.

“They are playing really fearless cricket and getting away with it.

“Why shouldn’t they be confident?”

A masterful exhibition of hitting from openers Harrison Ward and Daniel Hughes gave Sussex the platform to win with 26 balls to spare against an Essex team who had axed their Blast captain Simon Harmer.

The first-wicket pair put on 99 inside eight overs – including 32 from a Daniel Sams over – as ten sixes rained down all around the Chelmsford ground.

Hughes claimed four of them in his 18-ball 47, and Ward chipped in with three in his 68 from 36.

At one stage, the pair scored 50 off nine balls.

John Simpson hit Luc Benkenstein for ten off two balls in the 16th over to complete the win.

Essex had failed to post the sort of score that might have been expected after Dean Elgar (54) anchored two 50-run stands with stand-in captain Adam Rossington and Michael Pepper.

However, when Pepper was dismissed for a 26-ball 51, it precipitated a clatter of eight Essex wickets for 54 runs in 43 balls. They finished on 178-9.

McAndrew said: “We probably didn’t start too well with the ball. I think they batted well.

“We were a little sloppy in the field with a few too many easy boundaries, but I thought we did a really good job clawing it back.

“The powerplay was by far the easiest time to bat for both sides.

“We saw that with how aggressive they were in the powerplay.

“But the wicket was a little bit two-paced, the slower balls were quite effective once the field went back, it was easier to defend.

“We were expecting to go for a few runs in the powerplay and we executed it a lot better from the 11th over onwards and did a really good job and kept taking wickets from there which helped stop the run-rate.

“There was some really clean hitting for us in our powerplay.

“I think the boys played good shots as well. They were getting after the ball.

“It was what we spoke about in the break between the innings, we saw from Rossington and Elgar that they got through their powerplay by playing good, controlled shots and making the most of the hard ball.

“The guys who played the best looked like they played good cricket shots.

“With the size of the boundaries they got value for their runs.”