REPORT: Sharks edged out despite Wright heroics18-Jul-2014
Sussex opening batsman Luke Wright smashed a superb 116 not out and still finished on the losing side as Hampshire qualified for the NatWest T20 Blast quarter-finals for the sixth successive year.
Wright batted throughout the 20 overs as Sussex, requiring 17 from the final over of the match from Chris Wood, managed only ten to give Hampshire victory by six runs in a high-scoring match.
Sussex, needing to win to stand any chance of qualifying for the competition's last eight, made the best possible start in their pursuit of Hampshire's 177 for three by making 69 from the first 5.5 overs.
But for all Wright's efforts, Sussex fell away from the moment he lost opening partner Chris Nash to Danny Briggs, the first of four wickerts claimed by the Hampshire left-arm spinner.
Panic quickly set in the Sussex ranks and they lost seven wickets for 53 in just under nine overs, leaving Wright stranded and fighting a lone battle.
Wright did his best, failing by one run to match a competition-best score, hitting four sixes - two off Briggs and one each off Sean Ervine and Will Smith in an innings which also included 13 fours from 66 balls.
Sussex were left to regret some suicidal batting and not being able to find a batsman to support Wright once Nash had departed.
Hampshire, choosing to bat first, were indebted to opening batsman Michael Carberry who made 87 not out and James Adams who scored 52 in a partnership of 111 in 12 overs for the third wicket.
Hampshire made a poor start, losing James Vince and Glenn Maxwell with only eight on the board but Carberry and Adams repaired the damage with their decisive contributions.
Adams eventually perished at 119 to a catch at square leg attempting to sweep Nash but Ervine helped Carberry add another 58 in six overs to see Hampshire reeach a formidable total on a slow, used wicket.
Lewis Hatchett took the two early wickets to fall but Carberry and Ervine plundered 39 from the last four overs with Ervine twice hitting Hatchett for sixes in the penultimate over to ruin his bowling figures.
Carberry's best score of the season came off 63 balls and included five sixes but he was lucky to survive strong appeals for a catch at the wicket by Ben Brown off Steve Magoffin when the former England batsman had scored only three and the Hampshire innings had yet to gain momentum.
When Sussex responded, Wright and Nash made such a powerful start that Hampshire were beginning to run out of ideas until Briggs struck.
Wright could only watch in dismay as Craig Cachopa, Ashar Zaidi, Matt Machan, Brown, Will Beer and Steffan Piolet came and went in alarmingly rapid time.
But Sussex hopes were briefly revived when the experienced Steve Magoffin joined Wright in an eighth wicket stand of 39 in five overs, Magoffin sensibly giving the rampant Wright as much of the strike as possible.
Magoffin was run out in the 19th over trying to do just that and Wright and Chris Liddle found the task of scoring 176 beyond them. Wright struck another but 12 were needed off two balls and not even big-hitting Wright could manage that.