Middlesex will head to the South Coast in high spirits this evening to take on the Sussex Sharks in the NatWest T20 Blast, having comprehensively beaten Essex last night by 72 runs at Lord's in front of another 27,000 plus crowd.
With an urgent requirement to get their campaign back up and running, Vettori's men responded brilliantly at the Home of a Cricket and looked a million dollars, as in all disciplines they completely dominated an Essex side who now sit joint bottom of the South Group table alongside tonight's opponents Sussex.
Brendon McCullum looked at his majestic best, launching a fearsome assault on the Essex bowling attack, smashing five huge maximums on his way to an incredible 63 off just 28 balls, with a strike rate of 225. He was brilliantly supported by John Simpson, who hit two sixes within his superb 51, and Eoin Morgan, who also cleared the ropes twice as he hit 39 off just 33 balls. Useful late runs from Ryan Higgins and James Franklin saw Middlesex post an impressive 203/6 in their 20 overs.
Middlesex's total always looked too big for Essex, who struggled to maintain the required run rate throughout their chase, before Tom Helm ripped through them on his way to delivering the best ever Twenty20 figures by a Middlesex bowler, 5 for 11 off 3.2 spectacular overs, beating the 5 for 13 taken by Murali Kartik back in 2007.
The near full house at Lord's were treated to a display of something close to perfection from Middlesex's, and Vettori will be hell bent on ensuring his side maintain this level of performance tonight in Hove, as they look to mount a charge up the table.
A win for Middlesex tonight could see them climb to second in the South Group table, so there's a huge amount to play for, in what will be Brendon McCullum's lastly outing for the club before he departs to the Caribbean Premier League.
Sussex have had a disappointing campaign themselves to date, winning only one of their opening six encounters, and they certainly won't be relishing the visit of a resurgent Middlesex side to Hove this evening. Anything but a win for Sussex tonight would see their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages look improbable at best, whilst a Middlesex win would put them right back in the mix at the top of the group.
Head to head, Middlesex's Eoin Morgan and Brendon McCullum lead the run scoring charts, with 245 and 198 runs respectively, whilst for Sussex Luke Wright and Chris Nash have 164 and 157 runs to their names and lead the way for the South Coast side. With the ball Middlesex's Tom Helm's five wicket haul last night sees him now sit as the club's leading wicket-taker, with 12, closely followed by Tim Southee and Steven Finn, with 10 apiece. Jofra Archer's 7 wickets see him as Sussex's leading bowler, with Chris Jordan behind on four.
With so much riding on the game tonight and with McCullum looking to sign off his second Middlesex stint with another win, we're all set for a thrilling encounter down in Hove, as Middlesex look to find the consistency they crave, that will see them be a force to be reckoned with in this year's competition.
Middlesex name the following fourteen man squad for tonight's match...
Brendon McCullum (capt)
John Simpson (wk)