Essex 172 for 4 (ten Doeschate 42*, Shah 40) beat Sussex 171 for 9 (Machan 57, Tait 4-26) by six wickets

Essex overcame a 12-run penalty to return to the winning ways in the Friends Life t20 with a six-wicket win over Sussex in front of a near-capacity crowd at Chelmsford.

Even though they penalised because of their failure to bowl their overs in the permitted time - which boosted Sussex's total - Essex still had enough in reserve as they chased down 171 for 9 with four deliveries to spare.

After losing their openers Hamish Rutherford and Greg Smith, Ravi Bopara and Owais Shah seized the initiative for Essex with a partnership of 56 in six overs before the former was caught in the deep off Dwayne Smith.

Bopara's 35 came off 21 balls and contained three fours and two sixes, while Shah made 40 from 36 balls with four fours and two sixes before he holed out against the nagging spin of Mike Yardy.

Essex arrived in the final five overs needing 51 but that did not prove a problem as Ryan ten Doeschate and James Foster struck a series of lusty blows in an unbeaten stand of 57 to see their side home. Ten Doeschate's innings included two fours and two sixes while Foster helped himself to three fours and a six in his 15-ball cameo.

Essex's success was in complete contrast to their last Twenty20 outing when they were crushed by eight wickets against Middlesex after recording their lowest-ever total in the competition of 74.

Sussex had looked set for better when they reached the halfway stage 95 for 1 but they lost their way when Matt Machan departed six runs later after contributing 57 from 30 balls with the help of eight fours and a six.

He was removed lbw by left-arm spinner Tim Philips, paving the way for Australian pace bowler Shaun Tait to run through the middle order on his way to 4 for 26.

Rory Hamilton-Brown did his best to keep the Sussex innings afloat before he succumbed to Reece Topley for 43. Even with the gift of 12 runs thanks to Essex's slow pace, the visitors could only manage 53 from their final five overs and their failure to find momentum during that crucial stage was to cost them dearly.