NatWest Pro40 - Division One
Essex Eagles 263-8 (H M Amla 111, J S Foster 65) v Sussex Sharks 267-6 (E C Joyce 91, D R Smith 60 no)
Sussex beat Essex by 4 wkts
Sussex started the defence of their Division One Pro40 title with an impressive four-wicket win over Essex at Chelmsford.
Ed Joyce made 91 at the top of the order as the Sharks successfully chased down the home side's total of 263-8 with 10 balls to spare.
However it was Dwayne Smith who played the crucial knock for the visitors, the all-rounder needing just 34 balls to make an unbeaten 60.
The West Indian hammered seven fours and two almighty sixes to swing what had appeared to be a tight contest in Sussex's favour.
Rory Hamilton-Brown chipped in with a quick-fire 25 towards the finish after the defending champions had been given a solid start by Joyce, who needed just 78 balls to score his runs.
The former Middlesex left-hander was denied a deserved century when he was caught behind by wicketkeeper James Foster off the bowling of Grant Flower.
Joyce had shared stands of 64 with Luke Wright (21) and then 65 with Murray Goodwin, who contributed 41 from 48 deliveries.
Although they kept chipping away Essex were simply unable to control the run-rate after Hashim Amla's excellent century had helped them post a challenging target.
The South African reached three figures in his maiden one-day appearance for the county having made a match-saving 181 against Glamorgan on his debut in the LV County Championship.
Opening the innings, the right-hander hit a superb 111 from 107 deliveries that included eight fours and a six. He eventually fell in soft fashion, chipping back a simple return catch to Yasir Arafat (2-39).
Foster's 45-ball 60, including taking 21 off one over from spinner Hamilton-Brown, meant he dominated a fifth-wicket stand of 104 in 13 overs.
A pair of sixes from James Middlebrook boosted Essex's final total, though it still wasn't enough as the Sharks batsmen flourished under the floodlights.