Middlesex finished their Yorkshire Bank 40 campaign with a thrilling four wicket win over Leicestershire at Lord’s. The win, Middlesex’s seventh in their group, was not sufficient to see them progress to the semi-finals of the competition however.
Chasing the visitors’ total of 274-6, Middlesex were initially indebted to a brilliant innings of ninety by stand-in captain Eoin Morgan and they were then steered over the line with a fine effort from John Simpson who scored 58 not out from 39 balls as the Panthers reached the target with ten balls to spare.
Middlesex rested Neil Dexter and Gareth Berg, and gave a Yorkshire Bank 40 debut to Ollie Wilkin. After Eoin Morgan won the toss and invited Leicestershire to bat first, Greg Smith got the visitors off to a flying start by scoring 24 out of a total of 30-0 before Steve Finn had Josh Cobb caught by Morgan at mid-off for six. Ned Eckersley joined Smith and the scoring rate eased with Finn taking 1-16 in his initial opening spell and a steady four over spell of bowling from Ollie Wilkin.
The total reached 70-1 before Greg Smith pulled Toby Roland-Jones for a six and with a single next ball, he reached a 61 ball fifty in the 17th over. However, Ravi Patel removed Smith in his second over when Smith was caught at deep mid-off by James Harris for 56. Matt Boyce joined Eckersley and the scoring rate increased with Boyce striking Patel for two sixes. Eckersley reached a workmanlike fifty off 53 balls (5 fours) and the four over batting Power-play was taken after 30 overs with the total on 171-2.
After five runs came off the first of the Power-play overs, Eckersley hit the first two balls of James Harris’ over for fours before he was out to the fifth ball when he only found Toby Roland-Jones at mid-on, Eckersley having made 73 off 65 balls (8 fours). Michael Thornely joined Boyce and the Leicestershire total reached 198-3 after the Power-play overs. Matt Boyce then became the third visiting batsman to pass fifty with a single off Finn (off 51 balls, 2 sixes & 3 fours).
Ollie Wilkin returned at the Pavilion End and after two successive wide deliveries, Wilkin had Boyce caught by Joe Denly at cover-point for 53. The batsmen crossed and after Thornely hit the next two balls for a four and a two, Wilkin had Thornely caught at the wicket by John Simpson for 19. Tom Wells joined Rob Taylor at the wicket and after Taylor hit Toby Roland-Jones for a four, he was caught at extra-cover by Ollie Wilkin for five. Wells scored six runs off the remainder of Roland-Jones’ over but Raine hit Ravi Patel for a six before being caught by Morgan at mid-on from the next delivery for seven.
Middlesex were then penalised six penalty runs for a slow over-rate before James Harris began the final over of the innings. After Shiv Thakor was caught at long-leg by Steve Finn off the first ball of the over for a single, Tom Wells hit Harris for three fours and two sixes and with two runs for a no-ball, the final over went for 26 runs with Wells finishing on 31 not out, off just 11 balls. The Leicestershire innings finished on 274-8; Steve Finn had figures of 1-38 from 8 overs with Ollie Wilkin taking 2-44 in 8 overs, Ravi Patel 2-49 in 7 overs, James Harris 2-66 in 8 overs with Toby Roland-Jones taking 1-58 in 8 overs.
Paul Stirling took eight runs off the first over of the innings from Nathan Buck but after a first ball wide from Rob Taylor, Dawid Malan was caught at the wicket for a duck. Joe Denly joined Stirling and the pair took Middlesex to 22-1 before Stirling was bowled off an inside-edge by Buck for 15. Eoin Morgan joined Denly at the wicket but it was Denly who dominated the early part of the partnership with five fours in the first 21 ball faced. Morgan hit Raine for a six and Middlesex reached 94-2 before Denly was out to the last ball of the 15th over when he gave left-arm spinner James Sykes a return catch to be dismissed for 36.
Adam Voges was content to push singles to give Morgan the strike and he responded by hitting sixes off Cobb and off Taylor to reach a 43 ball fifty (3 sixes & 4 fours). Morgan hit Taylor for a further six in the bowlers’ following over and he had reached 90 off just 62 balls before he was caught by Greg Smith at deep mid-on off Shiv Thakor’s bowling. John Simpson joined Voges with the total on 175-4 in the 26th over and the pair added a further 22 runs before Voges, in his last appearance for Middlesex before joining up with the Australian squad for the t20 and one-day series, was caught by Smith at deep mid-on for 37 from Thakor’s bowling.
Ollie Wilkin joined Simpson at the wicket with 78 runs needed from 63 balls but only seventeen runs came from the next 21 balls before Simpson eased the pressure by hitting two fours off the first two balls of Taylor’s over. The total advanced to 233-5 after 35 overs at which point the batting Power-play was taken. Ten runs came from Thakor’s over and a further fourteen runs came off the first four balls of Nathan Buck’s over before Ollie Wilkin was caught by Raine at cover for a run-a-ball innings of 20.
After Simpson scored a single off the last ball of Buck’s over, he hit the first ball of Taylor’s over for a six and he reached a 37 ball fifty (1 six & 6 fours) with a single off the last ball of the over. Simpson then hit the first two balls of the 39th over for fours to give Middlesex victory with ten balls to spare. John Simpson was 58 not out (off 39 balls) with James Harris 1 not out.
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