Middlesex Panthers’ dismal NatWest t20 Blast campaign continued when they went down by sixteen runs in a high-scoring match against Kent under the Canterbury floodlights. After the hosts scored a massive 208-4 from their twenty overs, the Panthers were in dire straits on 28-3 in the fifth over before overseas t20 signing Dan Christian scored a quite magnificent innings of 129 off just 57 balls which contained 10 sixes and 12 fours. Needing eighteen runs from the final over from David Griffiths, Christian was bowled by the first ball of the over and after James Harris scored a single off the second ball, Ollie Rayner and Ravi Patel were bowled off successive balls to leave Kent the victors.
Eoin Morgan returned to the Middlesex team from England duty to captain the side but he called incorrectly at the toss and Kent Captain Rob Key elected to bat first. After fifteen runs came off the first two overs of the innings, Rob Key scored three successive fours off a James Harris over and the total reached 33-0 before Bell-Drummond hit a Dan Christian delivery straight to Ollie Rayner at mid-off, Bell-Drummond having made ten. Sam Northeast joined Key and announced his presence by hitting Harris for a six and a four and with thirteen runs coming off the next over, bowled by Toby Roland-Jones, Kent were 57-1 after the sixpowerplay overs.
Ravi Patel then came on and with his third delivery he had Key smartly stumped by ‘keeper John Simpson for 36 (off 21 balls). Darren Stevens joined Northeast and with both of them hitting Ollie Rayner for six, Kent reached 87-2 at the halfway point of the innings. A further three runs were added before Northeast pushed a Ravi Patel delivery to deep cover and called for a second run but Stevens was beaten by Joe Denly’s direct hit on the bowlers’ end stumps and was run-out for 17.
Alex Blake came in and immediately put his foot on the accelerator, scoring three fours off the first 12 balls he faced before Northeast hit fourteen runs off the first three balls of Dan Christian’s third over to reach a 30 ball fifty (3 sixes & 4 fours). However, Christian had his revenge when he bowled Northeast behind his legs for 54 which brought Sam Billings to the wicket with the total on 137-4 after fifteen overs.
Neil Dexter then bowled a solitary over which cost just five runs before Blake and Billings cut loose and scored a further sixty-six runs in the last four overs of the innings. Blake reached a 27 ball fifty which contained 1 six and 7 fours and with seventeen runs coming off the last over from James Harris, Kent reached 208-4 with Blake on 58 not out (off 31 balls) and Billings 31 not out (off just 12 balls). Ravi Patel was the pick of the Middlesex bowlers, taking 1-23 in his four overs with Dan Christian taking 2-29 in 3 overs whilst Roland-Jones, Rayner and Harris went for a combined total of 150 runs in 12 overs.
Middlesex then got off to the worst possible start when they lost Paul Stirling for four in the first over of the innings when he pulled a Doug Bollinger delivery straight into the hands of Alex Blake at deep mid-wicket. Eoin Morgan joined Dawid Malan and the pair took the Panthers to 22-1 before Malan was caught by Key at extra-cover off David Griffiths’ bowling for 12. When Eoin Morgan (10) top-edged a Darren Stevens’ delivery to Riley at third-man, Middlesex were struggling on 28-3 in the fifth over of the innings.
Dan Christian joined Joe Denly at the wicket and the total reached 38-3 after the powerplay overs. Christian then took twenty runs off the next over from Stevens and after five singles came off the next over, bowled by JamesTredwell, Denly was bowled by Bollinger for nine. Christian hit the last two balls of Bollinger’s over for fours and with eleven runs coming off the next over, Middlesex were 83-4 after ten overs.
Christian hit his fourth six of his innings to reach a 25 ball fifty (5 fours) in the 11th over but he lost Neil Dexter who was caught by Sam Northeast at long-off for six off the bowling of Riley. Christian hit a six off Ball but with the total on 110-5 in the 14th over, John Simpson was caught by Northeast at long-on for five off the bowling of Riley. Dan Christian then took twenty-eight runs off an Adam Ball over with two sixes and four fours to leave the Panthers needing exactly 70 runs off the last five overs.
Eight runs came off the 16th over before Christian hit Bollinger for two successive sixes, the first of which brought up his hundred off just 46 balls (8 sixes & 9 fours). Twenty runs came off the 18th over (bowled by JamesTredwell) with both Christian and Toby Roland-Jones hitting sixes, leaving 29 runs required off the last two overs. After Roland-Jones scored a single off the first ball of the 19th over, Christian hit the next three balls for two fours and a single before Roland-Jones top-edged a pull off Bollinger and wicket-keeper Sam Billings took the catch to dismiss him for fourteen.
After a leg-bye off the last ball of Bollinger’s over, Christian’s magnificent innings ended when he was bowled by Griffiths for 129 (off 57 balls, 10 sixes & 12 fours). After James Harris scored a single off the second ball of the over, Griffiths wrapped the innings up by bowling Ollie Rayner behind his legs and then bowling Ravi Patel, both batsmen registering first ball ducks. David Griffiths had figures of 4-22 in 3.4 overs with Doug Bollinger taking 3-40 in 4 overs and Adam Riley 2-23 in 4 overs.
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