After battling back to secure a thrilling tie against Gloucestershire in their opening NatWest T20 Blast encounter last Friday at Cheltenham College, Middlesex's opening home contest comes tomorrow evening, in a sold-out clash against London derby rivals Surrey at Lord's.
At Cheltenham, against the odds, Middlesex recovered from 56 for 4, and then again from 117 for 8, to smash 64 runs off the last 28 deliveries, to reach Gloucestershire's total of 182 in their twenty overs to earn a deserved tie. Man of the hour was Ryan Higgins, who was in blistering form, batting at seven, as he dragged Middlesex back into the match with a swashbuckling unbeaten innings of 68, including 6 huge maximums.
Whilst the focus of the Middlesex batting attack is on the top four, who have earned almost one thousand T20 caps between them, and have over 24,000 runs in this format of the game to their names, it will offer new Middlesex T20 Head Coach Daniel Vettori plenty of encouragement that there is firepower down the order that he can rely upon, should it be needed.
Whilst Malan himself hit a fine 36 off 27 balls against Gloucestershire, the rest of the top four failed to spark, although the undoubted quality of McCullum, Morgan and Stirling will no doubt see a heavy weight of runs coming from them as the campaign evolves in the coming weeks. The home crowd will be hoping that McCullum and co can deliver at Lord's tomorrow under the lights, to repeat last year's result, when Middlesex chased down a Surrey total of 196 runs to secure a brilliant five wicket victory, with five balls to spare.
Two wickets on debut for New Zealand's Tim Southee saw him settle in well against Gloucestershire, claiming figures of 2 for 39, although the miserly economy rates of Tom Helm and Nathan Sowter saw them as the stand-out bowlers, going for just 24 and 28 runs respectively off their four overs.
Middlesex's bowling ranks are boosted for the Surrey game by the addition of Steven Finn, who returns to the squad, having missed out on the trip to Cheltenham with a back problem, and James Franklin also comes back in, adding power to the batting line-up and quality with the ball, as he too recovers from a back complaint.
Surrey come to Lord's without key players Kumar Sangakkara and Kevin Petersen, so they'll be hugely reliant on big guns Aaron Finch and Jason Roy for their runs up top. With two wins from two matches played in the competition already, and on top of the South Group, Surrey will be high in confidence and hopeful of continuing their good run at the Home of Cricket tomorrow evening.
In front of almost 28,000
Middlesex name the following fourteen-man squad for tomorrow's NatWest T20 Blast clash...
Brendon McCullum (capt)
John Simpson (wk)