Sussex Sharks’ hopes of a third successive appearance in the knockout stages of the Yorkshire Bank 40 suffered a blow when they lost to previously winless Warwickshire Bears by eight runs.
Chasing a target of 158 in 21 overs after rain delayed the start of the Group A contest until 7:30pm, Sussex were always up against it after losing Chris Nash and Rory Hamilton-Brown in the first five balls of their reply.
Both were caught off top-edges in Chris Wright’s first over and the paceman returned to the attack in the 18th to deliver another important blow when having Michael Yardy taken on the midwicket boundary.
On a pitch offering good pace and carry, Wright used the short ball expertly and only conceded 10 runs in his final two overs, leaving Sussex needing 18 off the final set of six; that proved beyond them as Boyd Rankin removed Matt Machan and Ben Brown with successive balls.
Sussex’s chase had been revived by a stand of 73 in 10 overs between Luke Wright and skipper Ed Joyce for the third wicket.
Wright top scored with 44 off 35 balls and Joyce, who made a century for Ireland against Pakistan in Sunday’s one-day international, gave him good support with 31, before the pair fell in successive overs from off-spinner Jeetan Patel.
Warwickshire’s total of 157 for seven had been built around solid contributions from Tim Ambrose and Darren Maddy, who hit 40 and 49 respectively.
The Bears could only score 25 in the first four-over powerplay and lost two wickets in the process.
Will Porterfield was superbly caught one-handed at slip by Chris Jordan, who then had skipper Jim Troughton held at deep square-leg off a top-edge.
Ambrose and Varun Chopra steadied their side with a stand of 51 from 46 balls until the latter was pinned leg before by Yardy working the ball to leg.
Ambrose hit a six and three fours, only to then slice Chris Liddle to backward point. By then, though, Maddy was well into his stride.
Three previous appearances in the YB40 had yielded just 11 runs, yet he put his poor form behind him, striking three sixes, including two in the final over off Liddle, and four fours off just 25 balls.
He was eventually caught on the long-off boundary trying to bring up a fifty from the last ball of the innings; Jordan was the best Sussex bowler with 3-27.