Bopara heroics in vain
A courageous 55 from 45 balls by emerging England one-day star Ravi Bopara was not enough to save Essex Eagles from their fourth Twenty20 Cup defeat under the Hove floodlights.
Sussex Sharks revived their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals for the first time with victory by 17 runs.
The hosts, after posting 163 for six on winning the toss, limited their opponents to 146 for five before a crowd of 4,500.
Essex required 34 from the final three overs but their hopes were ended by medium-pacer Robin Martin-Jenkins who removed Bopara in conceding only two runs from his final over.
Martin-Jenkins finished with two for 21 from his four overs and sixth wicket pair Ryan Ten Doeschate and James Middlebrook could only muster nine off the final over from Rana Naved-ul-Hasan when an unlikely 27 was required.
The start of the Eagles' innings was delayed for 40 minutes due to failure of half the floodlights and skipper Mark Pettini fell in the first over to Martin-Jenkins.
Bopara joined Grant Flower in a second-wicket stand of 85 in 11 overs, and Flower swung Mushtaq Ahmed for six over mid-wicket on the way to making 40 from 38 balls.
Eagles lost former Surrey captain Adam Hollioake with 38 needed from the final four overs when he skied the first ball of James Kirtley's second spell to long-on.
Luke Wright earlier continued his good form in the competition by firing 44 from only 26 balls after coming in first wicket down.
The young all-rounder fired five fours and two sixes, the second of which was over mid-wicket at the expense of spinner Danish Kaneria, before skying Bopara to long-off.
Wright figured in a second-wicket stand of 44 in six overs with Murray Goodwin (17) after former Zimbabwe star Goodwin shared an opening partnership of 33 with Chris Nash (24).
Skipper Chris Adams, starting his innings in the 10th over, batted his side through by thumping an unbeaten 43 with four fours and a six over mid-wicket off Andy Bichel.
Adams, who added 38 for the fifth wicket in five overs with Andrew Hodd (14) was dropped twice in his devil-may-care knock.