T20 VITALITY BLAST: Essex beat Middlesex by six wickets at Lord's
PUBLISHED: 21:18 16 August 2018 | UPDATED: 08:44 17 August 2018
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Essex beat Middlesex by six wickets with four balls remaining after chasing down the home side's victory target of 211 at a packed Lord's on Thursday evening.
Dan Lawrence hit a superb 86 from only 46 balls as the visitors won only their second T20 match of the summer – to complete a double against Daniel Vettori’s bottom of the table side.
Essex won the toss and elected to bowl even if both sides only had pride to play for during the final Vitality Blast match of the summer here at Lord’s.
It has been another wretched T20 summer for Middlesex as they started the match rock-bottom of the southern group.
Their visitors from the east have fared little better, sitting in seventh, two places and two points better off than the Seaxes, yet a whopping 12 points off second-placed Gloucestershire.
While Daniel Vettori’s side have little to be congratulated about on the field as the club’s only T20 success in that memorable summer of 2008 recedes further into the distance, the sales and marketing team here in NW8 deserve to be congratulated at the very least for ensuring yet another packed ground, including a sizeable contingent from Essex.
The number of spectactors, 22,692, that came through the gates should be viewed as even more impressive considering the torrential rain in parts of North West London on the morning of the game.
Middlesex started the match wanting revenge on Anthony McGrath’s side after losing by three wickets at Chelmsford last month.
McGrath has led the county with dignity after replacing fellow Yorkshireman Chris Silverwood, who left last season’s surprise but deserved County Champions to join the England coaching staff.
The Bradford-born 42-year-old who played four Test matches for England at the turn of the century would have been pleased with the early wicket, when the promising 21-year-old right arm fast bowler, Sam Cook, had Dawid Malan caught by off the final ball of his first over for eight by Adam Wheater, with the home side on 9-1.
Fellow opener Paul Stirling moved the score on to 75 in a partnership worth 66 with John Simpson, batting at three, which was ended when the wicketkeeper was caught and bowled by 29-year-old South African Simon Harmer.
The home side’s gloveman scored a well-paced 16 from 15 balls before he gave way to Eoin Morgan.
The pair moved the score onto 152-3 before the powerful Stirling was caught by Harmer in the deep after attempting another lusty blow off the bowling of former Australia paceman Peter Siddle for 78 off 52 balls.
It was a characteristically explosive innings from the Ulsterman containing eight fours and four sixes.
Morgan continued to score quickly which included a huge six to cow corner follow by another maximum to square leg in successive boundaries off Essex’s Paul Walter during the 16th over which yielded 20 runs for the home side – with 21 coming in the 18th over off Cole.
James Fuller provided support with a quick fire 25 off 11 balls including clubbing 14 off the first three balls of Essex’s 20th over, bowled by Cook as Morgan ended on 77 not out off only 38 balls as the home side hit their highest ever T20 total at Lord’s ending on 210-3.
Cook, Harmer and Siddle all ended with a wicket each as Essex were set 211 to win.
The visitors soon lost their first wicket as Wheater went for nine off the bowling of James Fuller after Steve Eskinazi took an excellent running catch at deep backward square with the score on 18-1 off 2-1 overs.
Walter then holed out to mid on Malan off the bowling of Finn for seven to make it 32-2 off 3.5 overs.
However, Varun Chopra and 21-year-old Leytonstone-born Lawrence moved the score onto 137-2, an excellent partnership of 105 before the 31-year-old was bowled for 51 off 34 balls on 13.3 overs.
Ravi Bopara joined Lawrence with the game in the balance.
There was drama shortly afterwards when Essex’s former England man blasted Harris high into deep mid off in front of the pavillion in the 16th over.
It appeared Fuller was going to take a spectacular catch but he crossed the boundary rope. Despite showing quick thinking by throwing the ball back in, Franklin, backing up, failed to get on the end of what would have been superb cricket, and a pivotal catch.
Bopara compounded the disappointment by pushing the score along with a succession of unorthodox shots as the visitors thrilled their travelling support by edging nearer to the total required.
Finn then spilled a difficult chance on the square leg boundary off Bopara who cut Fuller powerfully. To add insult to injury the ball then trickled over the rope for four in the 17th over.
The former England paceman castled matchwinner Lawrence for 86 with two balls left of the 18th over with the score on 184-4 but the 37-year-old Asah Jaidi joined Bopara to club their way to victory as Essex won by six wickets with four balls remaining.
For Middlesex to lose from such a promising position was galling, but absolutely typical of their T20 form this summer.