Middlesex kept their Friends Life t20 hopes alive with a six wicket win over Sussex Sharks at Hove. With Sussex out of the reckoning for qualifying from the South Group, they rested a few of the players expected to take the field in the LV= County Championship match starting the following day. Middlesex Panthers restricted the Sharks to just 148-7 in their twenty overs but they had a slight wobble before they got home with just two balls to spare.
Middlesex fielded the same side that was heavily defeated by t20 champions Hampshire and after Neil Dexter won the toss for Middlesex, they sent the hosts in to bat first. Kyle Mills struck with the first ball of the match when Dwayne Smith got a thick edge and Adam Rossington took the catch at the wicket. Rory Hamilton-Brown got off the mark with a single before Machan hit two fours off the last two balls of the over.
Gurjit Sandhu was hit for three successive fours in his opening over and after six runs came off Mills’ second over, Gareth Berg came on and after Hamilton-Brown hit his first delivery for a four, he was caught by Dawid Malan at mid-wicket for eighteen. Chris Nash joined Machan who hit Kyle Mills for three successive fours before Nash hit the last ball of the Power-play for a six as Sussex reached 51-2.
Ollie Rayner then came on at the Sea End and he had Machan caught by Paul Stirling at long-off for 27 (off 17 balls). Scott Styris joined Chris Nash at the wicket but the pair had to work hard for runs with Ravi Patel joining Rayner to form an all-spin attack. Ravi Patel bowled his four overs straight through, conceding 23 runs with Ollie Rayner taking 1-19 in three overs before he was replaced by Neil Dexter.
The hundred came up in the 14th over before Neil Dexter struck with the first ball of his second over when Styris was bowled for a run-a-ball 24. Joe Gatting got off the mark with a four off Dexter but when Adam Voges replaced Ravi Patel at the Cromwell Road End, he gave Voges a return catch to be dismissed for four. Ben Brown joined Nash with the score on 106-5 in the 16th over before Nash, who had been restrained, took eight runs off Neil Dexter’s third over.
Gurjit Sandhu returned to the attack to bowl the 18th over but Nash hit him for successive sixes and with eight runs coming off the penultimate over from Kyle Mills, Sussex were 141-5. Gareth Berg bowled the final over of the innings but Nash scored seven runs off the first three balls of the over before Ben Brown was well caught by Ollie Rayner at cover-point for thirteen. Will Beer came in to face the final ball of the innings but he was caught by Adam Voges at long-on as the Sussex innings ended on 148-7. Chris Nash was 54 not out off 46 balls (3 sixes & 5 fours); Gareth Berg had figures of 3-19 from 3 overs with Kyle Mills taking 1-35 in 4 overs, Neil Dexter 1-21 in 3 overs with Adam Voges taking 1-4 in his solitary over.
In reply, Paul Stirling got the Panthers’ off to a flying start; after four leg-byes off the first ball of the innings from Hatchett, Stirling scored 22 runs off the remaining five balls of the over. After Dawid Malan got off the mark with a single off Miller, Stirling hit a further four before he was bowled by Miller for 26 off just ten balls. Joe Denly joined Malan and he got off the mark first ball with a four off Chris Liddle. Thirteen runs came off the fourth over with Denly hitting Miller for a six and Middlesex reached 60-1 after the six Power-play overs.
Denly was badly missed by Miller at third man off a top-edge off Scott Styris’ bowling when he had made just 26 and at the half-way point of the innings, Middlesex were 80-1. Denly then hit Will Beer for a six off the first ball of the 11th over which cost a total of fourteen runs. Chris Nash replaced Styris at the Sea End but Denly played a quite astonishing reverse sweep which went for a six. Denly reached a 42 ball fifty which contained four sixes and a four but when Styris returned to bowl the 14th over of the innings, Denly was beaten in the flight by a Styris delivery and was stumped for 53.
Adam Voges joined Dawid Malan who had set out his stall to bat throughout the innings to steer Middlesex home, with the score on 111-2 and with 37 balls remaining. Dwayne Smith had conceded just a single off his first over but eleven runs came off his second over and the pair took Middlesex to within eighteen runs short of victory before Malan hit a Chris Liddle delivery straight to Dwayne Smith at cover-point to be dismissed for a run-a-ball innings of 41.
Adam Rossington was missed off a caught and bowled chance by Will Beer and Rossington added salt into Beer’s wounds by hitting him for a straight six, next ball. Nine runs were needed off the final two overs of the innings but Rossington (7) was out to the third ball of the penultimate over when he drilled a Liddle delivery straight to Smith at cover. Neil Dexter joined Adam Voges at the wicket and he got a top-edge to the last ball of the over and it flew to the boundary.
Dwayne Smith returned to bowl the last over but Voges was unable to score off the first three balls before he drove the fourth ball to the long-on boundary for a four to give Middlesex victory; Voges was 14 not out with Dexter 5 not out.
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