Middlesex’s hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals of the Yorkshire Bank 40 competition are still alive but only after a narrow one wicket win over the Unicorns at Lord’s. The outlook for Middlesex looked bleak when last man Steve Finn joined John Simpson with the hosts needing a further 23 runs from 32 balls. However, with Finn blocking one end up, Simpson played superbly to steer Middlesex home with five balls to spare although he did survive a confident appeal for a run out when going for a third run to bring the scores level.
Simpson was only playing after Adam Rossington, who has played in the majority of YB40 matches this season, split the webbing of a hand during a match against MCC Universities. After Neil Dexter won the toss for Middlesex, he asked the Unicorns, who were winless at the bottom of the group, to bat first.
Nine runs came off the opening over from Steve Finn and the total reached 19-0 in the fourth over before James Harris bowled Matt Lineker for eleven. Michael O’Shea joined Tom Lancefield (ex-Surrey) and Lancefield played confidently, hitting five fours in an innings of 28 before he fell in Toby Roland-Jones’ first over when he was caught by Dawid Malan at extra-cover. Roland-Jones struck again in his third over when O’Shea was well caught by Paul Stirling who dived forward at mid-on to take the catch to dismiss O’Shea for nine.
Lewis Hill joined Gary Park with the total on 59-3 in the fifteenth over and the pair added 44 runs for the fourth wicket with Hill hitting Ollie Rayner for three fours in an over before he was out in Paul Stirling’s first over when he was caught by Gareth Berg at extra-cover for 31. The Unicorns skipper, Keith Parsons joined Park at the wicket and the pair batted sensibly in adding 77 runs for the fifth wicket with Parsons hitting a James Harris delivery into the Grandstand for a six. Toby Roland-Jones ended the stand when he had Park caught by Eoin Morgan at mid-wicket for 43 which contained just one boundary.
Steve Finn then had Norman well caught by ‘keeper John Simpson for a third ball duck before Parsons reached a 54 ball fifty (1 six & 4 fours) out of a total of 184-6. James Harris returned at the Nursery End and he had Luke Beaven caught on the mid-wicket boundary by Steve Finn for a single. Parsons and Reed added 23 runs together as the Unicorns innings ended on 208-7 with Parsons 64 not out (off 62 balls) and Reed 8 not out. Toby Roland-Jones had figures of 3-33 from his eight overs with James Harris taking 2-51 in 8 overs, Steve Finn 1-34 in 8 overs and Paul Stirling taking 1-22 in 3 overs.
Stirling and Dawid Malan scored 17 runs before Malan was caught at the wicket for eight off the last ball of the third over, bowled by Reed. Joe Denly joined Stirling and the pair saw Middlesex reach 53-1 after the compulsory first eight overs of powerplay with Stirling hitting Skidmore for a six over backward point. The total reached 82-1 in the 15th over before Josh Poysden, who had come on to bowl his leg-breaks at the Nursery End, lured Stirling down the track and he was stumped by ‘keeper Hill for 42.
Eoin Morgan joined Denly but he managed only three before he attempted a reverse sweep against Poysden and was bowled. Gareth Berg joined Denly and the pair saw Middlesex reach100-3 after nineteen overs. The total reached 118-3 in the 21st over before Berg, who had hit Poysden for a four off the previous ball, was LBW for sixteen, attempting a slog-sweep. Neil Dexter joined Denly at the wicket and Denly reached a well-paced fifty off 63 balls (6 fours), in the 24th over. However, Neil Dexter (4) was then caught by Park on the extra-cover boundary to give left-arm spinner Luke Beaven a wicket in his second over.
John Simpson joined Joe Denly with the total on 127-5 after 24 overs and he got off the mark with a single off Poysden with a total of six runs coming off the over. After Denly scored a two off the first ball of the following over from Beaven, five wides came off the next ball but Denly was bowled by Beaven, next ball for 57 (off 69 balls). Ollie Rayner joined Simpson with the total on 140-6 and the pair saw off the threat of Poysden who had bowled his eight overs straight through to finish with figures of 3-33.
Simpson and Rayner took the Middlesex total to 163-6 before Rayner was caught at the wicket by Hill for nine to give Skidmore a wicket. When Toby Roland-Jones was LBW to Beaven for a first ball duck, Middlesex were on the brink at 168-8 with a further 41 runs needed from eight overs. James Harris joined Simpson who hit a Beavan delivery into the Grandstand for a six, with thirteen runs coming from the over. The total reached 186-8 in the 35th over before Lewis Hill took a stunning one-handed diving catch at the wicket off Skidmore, to dismiss Harris for two.
Last man Steve Finn joined John Simpson with 23 runs needed from 32 balls. Finn survived the remaining two balls of Skidmore’s over and after Simpson took a single off the second ball of the next over from Norman, Finn played out the remainder of the over. The batting powerplay was taken after 36 overs with the total on 187-9 and three runs came off the next over from Reed. However, John Simpson hit Norman for two fours in an over which cost eleven runs to leave eight runs required off two overs.
Four singles came off the first five balls of the 39th over before Simpson drove a Reed delivery through mid-wicket and only just made the third run as he survived a confident appeal from the fielders after the wicket was broken at the bowlers’ end. Needing just one run to win, Simpson drove the first ball of the final over for a single to bring up his fifty off 48 balls (1 six & 5 fours) and win the match for Middlesex. Steve Finn played his part with three not out from twelve balls. Luke Beaven had figures of 3-43 from 7.1 overs with Skidmore taking 2-33 from 8 overs and Reed 1-46 in 8 overs.
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