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Middlesex began their County Championship season on Sunday with a five-wicket defeat to Essex at Chelmsford.

After losing the toss Middlesex were put into bat with the new opening pair of captain Naomi Dattani and Cordelia Griffith looking to build a good platform. Dattani was the more aggressive of the two in their important 78-run stand, reaching her 50 off 48 balls. Griffith made a useful 16 before being caught off first change bowler Anje Lague.

Sophia Dunkley joined her skipper at the crease but just 13 runs were added with Dattani run out by Grace Poole for 57 off 56, an innings which included ten fours. Middlesex then lost three wickets for just 16 runs; Beth Morgan run out for three as Lague put down a caught and bowled chance but the ball went straight onto the stumps at the non-striker’s end, Emma Albery caught and bowled for nought and Dunkley caught for 16. Iqraa Hussain and Sonali Patel shared a 20-run partnership before Hussain was caught for 16.

The lower-order added 33 runs as Middlesex finished on 160 all out. Captain Kelly Castle was the pick of the Essex bowlers claiming 3-16 to wrap up the Middlesex innings.

Essex opened their chase with Beth Harmer and Castle who faced seamers Gayatri Gole and Katie Wolfe first up. Gole claimed the key wicket of Castle (seven) with the hosts on just 12 which brought Beth Dodd to the crease.

Harmer and Dodd batted well together sharing a 48-run stand which was broken by Dattani as she bowled Harmer for 29. Former Middlesex batter Catherine Dalton joined Dodd in the middle as Essex continued their chase with apparent ease, before Dattani bowled Dalton for a run-a-ball 34 with the score on 129.

This key wicket gave Middlesex a glimmer of hope as Essex’s fourth-wicket stand was a mere five runs and saw Dodd depart for a well-made 46 caught off leggie Dunkley. With the hosts on 135 another wicket fell, this time a run out to dismiss Megan Janman for a single, which brought wicketkeeper Scarlett Hughes to the crease requiring 26 to win.

Jessica Bird (17 not out) and Hughes (seven not out) knocked off the runs with 7.3 overs remaining to secure a five-wicket win for Essex. Dattani was the pick of the Middlesex attack claiming 2-28 from her six overs.

Middlesex’s next County Championship match is on Sunday 5th May at Mill Hill School against Worcestershire.

Contributed by Georgia Isaac, Middlesex Women’s Media Assistant
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