HAMPSHIRE’S impressive Natwest T20 Blast campaign suffered a setback after they went down to a seven-wicket loss to Sussex at the Ageas Bowl.
Following their win over Middlesex at Lord’s 24 hours earlier, Hampshire were unable to find the same form on their home turf as Craig Cachopa’s brilliant unbeaten 89 saw the Sharks home with eight balls to spare.
His partnership with Matt Machan (56 not out) proved to the match-winning stand as the duo put on 146 for the fourth wicket to take the game away from James Vince’s side.
Hampshire’s innings never seemed to truly fire as they laboured to 157 for six from their 20 overs.
The pitch certainly appeared to play a part in a relatively low total with most of the batsmen struggling to find any real fluency.
Vince (41) looked bright for his 24-ball stay as he plundered five fours and two sixes.
But just when he was getting into his stride, he was stumped off the bowling of Michael Yardy.
Michael Carberry (10) had looked strangely out of sorts and was the first wicket to fall before Vince followed.
Jimmy Adams (21) got a start but failed to go on to dominate the innings before Sean Ervine (five) offered catching practice to Ollie Robinson on the deep square leg boundary with a mistimed pull.
Owais Shah struck two fours and one mighty six but departed for 36 as he attempted to go for another big shot, only to top edge high into the sky for the wicketkeeper to pouch.
That left Adam Wheater (26) to shoulder some of the extra responsibility and although he picked up a few boundaries, none of the batsmen ever looked truly comfortable on the pitch.
Although they looked short of runs at the midway point, Vince’s side looked favourites early in the Sussex reply as Chris Wood (two for 27) struck twice in his first over to leave the visitors wobbling at 12 for two.
His first wicket owed much to Will Smith’s athleticism after he pulled off a stunning catch to remove dangerman Luke Wright (three).
The Sussex all-rounder made a sweet contact but he did not account for Smith diving full-length to his left to take a magnificent catch that any Premier League goalkeeper would have been proud of.
Wood then grabbed his second key scalp when he accounted for Mahele Jayawardene (four), who edged behind after charging down the track after a rush of blood.
The home side picked up a third wicket before the end of the power play as Ben Brown (two) chipped up to Sean Ervine to give Gareth Berg his first Hampshire t20 wicket in his first appearance of the season.
But the game gradually turned in Sussex’s favour as Cachopa and Machan built the momentum.
Cachopa gave a masterclass in finding the boundary, taking Danny Briggs for 19 runs in the 11th over, which proved to be the catalyst.
And he continued in similar style to play a match-winning knock as he hit four sixes and seven fours in his 54-ball effort to send Hampshire to defeat.