McKenzie steers Hants home in thriller
Hampshire 148 for 5 (McKenzie 71*, Carberry 50) beat Sussex 145 for 6 (Styris 39*, Dawson 2-16) by five wickets
Neil McKenzie hit a brilliant 71 not out from 50 balls to sweep Friends Life t20 holders Hampshire Royals to 148 and a thrilling five-wicket last-over victory against a tenacious Sussex Sharks side at Hove.
The South Group's south coast derby clash looked to be going Sussex's way when Hampshire reached the final over still needing 12 to win on a tricky pitch in reply to the home side's 20-over total of 145 for 6. But McKenzie, aided by a big slice of good fortune, got Hampshire home with three balls to spare as he flicked Chris Jordan's first ball for four to wide long leg, and gained six runs for a thin inside edge on to his pad from the second.
Chris Liddle's attempt to run him out going for a second run to fine leg saw the ball deflect off wicketkeeper Ben Brown's gloves and run all the way down to the unguarded long-off boundary for four overthrows, and then McKenzie crashed Jordan's third ball, a low full toss, through extra cover for his eighth four and the winning blow.
Hampshire remain unbeaten in this year's competition, with two wins and a no result from their first three games, but this was a third defeat in four matches for Sussex. McKenzie ultimately settled the game by dominating an unbroken 49-run stand for the sixth wicket with Adam Wheater after Michael Carberry had given Hampshire a flying start with a superb 50 from 31 balls, which included three sixes and four fours.
Carberry pulled Liddle over square leg for six and then drove him over extra cover for another remarkable six later in a fifth over costing 19 runs, and initially he was harsh on Yardy, taking two fours from the seventh over as Hampshire sped past 50. But, when Carberry was caught at point at 82 for 3 in the 10th over, making room to slash Chris Nash's offspin square, Sussex's spinners - like Hampshire's earlier in the evening - began to take a grip on the game.
Legspinner Will Beer, who had Sean Ervine caught at long-off for 7, bowled his four overs for just 15 runs while both Nash and Michael Yardy also helped to build up the pressure on Hampshire. Nash had Liam Dawson lbw second ball for 0 in the 14th over, sweeping, but 37-year-old former South Africa batsman McKenzie was equal to the situation in the end with a calm and cool effort.
Earlier, Sussex had chosen to bat after winning the toss and were given a rapid start by Nash and Luke Wright, with 45 runs coming from the first four overs. But when they both perished inside the initial six-over Powerplay - Wright, after hitting two sixes, was bowled by Chris Wood for 17. Nash, on 23 with a six and four fours, chipped a gentle catch back to slow left-armer Danny Briggs - the rest of the innings was something of a struggle against some superb Hampshire bowling and ground fielding.
Rory Hamilton-Brown drove a catch to long-off on four, and explosive West Indies allrounder Dwayne Smith only managed one big hit, a six over wide long-on in the same over as he had escaped a caught and bowled chance to Dimitri Mascarenhas, before he was bowled for 12 swinging at Dawson.
Scott Styris, the former New Zealand allrounder came in at the fall of Smith at 78 for 4 in the middle of the 10th over, but even he found it hard going initially against tight bowling from Briggs and Dawson, who also sent down his left-arm spin with great control and later bowled Matt Machan through a horrible heave across the line in a four-over spell of 2 for 16.
Briggs took 1 for 19 from his four overs and although both Mascarenhas and Sohail Tanvir were expensive, with their combined eight overs costing 82, Hampshire were more than happy at halfway to have held Sussex to below 150. Brown was run out attempting a second run to McKenzie at deep midwicket, while Styris did find his range towards the end of the innings and pulled a suffering Sohail for six in the final over to finish on 39 not out from 32 balls.