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Middlesex got off to a good start in their title defence, winning their first match against Sussex by three runs, but fell four runs short against Hampshire in a rain-reduced game.

Sussex won the toss and opted to field and Middlesex opened with new pairing Amara Carr and Cordelia Griffith. After five overs they were 18-0 and looked to advance but Carr was bowled by the left-arm spin of Linsey Smith for eight with the score on 23. Sophia Dunkley joined Griffith and had the making of a strong partnership, but Dunkley was caught off spinner Chiara Green for 11, bringing skipper Natasha Miles to the middle and Middlesex on 42-2 in the ninth over. Miles and Griffith rotated the strike well adding 44 runs for the third wicket, until Miles was stumped off Nancy Harman for nine.

Griffith continued to show why she has now secured a contract with the Yorkshire Diamonds for the Kia Super League scoring 57 off 48, finding the boundary on five occasions and clearing it on another. She was caught in the 17th off Tara Norris looking to advance the run rate in the last few overs. Middlesex were then tied down scoring just seven off the final three to post 115-7.

Norris was the pick of the Sussex attack with 2-24 from her four overs, while Harman claimed 1-10 from her three overs.

Young quick Lauren Bell opened with Katie Wolfe and trapped hard-hitting bat Izzy Collis in the first over with the score on four. Bell delivered a perfect third over: a wicket-maiden bowling Sussex captain Georgia Adams for six. Paige Scholfield joined Georgia Elwiss and the pair upped the run rate, adding 46 to the score before Wolfe trapped Scholfield for 18.

Elwiss continued to bat well and was the key wicket for Middlesex as she had the ability to win it for Sussex but was run out by Carr for 50 off 42 - an innings which included five fours. Wicketkeeper Carla Rudd was on 17 and as the last recognised batter looked to be the last wicket standing between Middlesex and the hosts with the score on 96-4 after 17. Dunkley struck in the 18th and at the end of the over Sussex were on 100 needing 16 off 12 balls to win. Wolfe took the penultimate over and for the third time this season was on a hat-trick, dismissing Smith and Norris before Rudd found the boundary. Bell delivered the 20th with Sussex needing 10 to win and with a run out apiece from Dunkley (Rudd 25) and Olivia Rae (Green 3) as the batters looked to return for a second run Middlesex won by three runs as Sussex finished on 112-9.

Hampshire skipper Katie George won the toss in a rain-reduced nine over match and elected to bat opening with former Middlesex player Maia Bouchier and Charlotte Taylor. Bell struggled with her line with a damp ball as Hampshire took 11 off the first over and 12 off Wolfe's. The visitors continued to dominate despite Bell claiming a wicket in the third over. Bouchier was in fine form and found twos with ease as Hampshire were 45-1 after just four overs. Spin was introduced in the form of leggie Dunkley which brought success as Samantha Betts and George were bowled for 11 and nought respectively and the visitors ere reduced to 51-3. Off-spinner Emma Albery and leg-spinner Emily Thorpe bowled the sixth and seventh overs going for a respectable five runs. Misfields in the ninth brought Hampshire's total off the over to 12 but Middlesex finished off well as Dunkley went for just five and picked up the wicket of Morris for 11. Bouchier finished unbeaten on 33 off 24 as Hampshire posted 78-4.

In reply Carr and Griffith batted well but the bowling between the two sides proved the difference. Bouchier opened and went for just three, though George's opening over was expensive going for 15 with both batters looking comfortable, Hampshire introduced spin into the attack when the Middlesex pair increased the run rate to make the batters create the pace on a slow outfield. Carr took advantage of this in the sixth over striking a six as it appeared Middlesex were in the driving seat but three balls later Griffith was run out for 22 off 17, with the score on 53 after six overs. Dunkley and Carr batted well, running the first run hard as they looked for two and it came down to the final over as Middlesex needed eight to win. Dunkley was stumped off spinner Providence Cowdrill after Carr scored a single which brought Miles to the middle who hit a single to get Carr on strike. Carr went for a boundary but was caught for 31 off 28. Beth Morgan faced her first and the final ball of the innings needing three to win but was stumped as Hampshire won by four runs to secure their second win of the day.

Middlesex travel to Newport to play Wales and Lancashire in the second round of T20s on Sunday.

Contributed by Georgia Isaac, Middlesex Women’s Media Assistant

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