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Middlesex v Kent Spitfires: Match Report

Eoin Morgan returned to domestic duty with a half-century as Middlesex thrashed Kent Spitfires by 115 runs to claim their first win of the season in the NatWest T20 Blast. England’s one-day captain, who returned earlier this week from his stint in the Indian Premier League with Sunrisers Hyderabad, hit three sixes and four boundaries in a sparkling 27-ball cameo.

His contribution and an even more punishing 90 from 49 deliveries by opener Paul Stirling powered Middlesex to a score of 205 for five in front of a crowd of 13,500 at Lord’s. Kent were never in contention as James Franklin took 5 for 21, his best figures in the format, and they were bundled out for just 90 in 14.4 overs.

When Morgan and Stirling were adding 104 from 49 deliveries for the third wicket Middlesex looked on course for an even greater total on an easy-paced pitch. But, to their credit, Kent clawed it back after Morgan holed out to long-off two balls after reaching his half-century.

Middlesex only scored 22 runs from the next 22 balls and failed to find the boundary again until the final over when Franklin took two fours off Mitch Claydon. But it proved more than adequate against some woeful Kent batting, in which only skipper Sam Northeast (20) made any impression.

Mixing his pace cleverly, Franklin was twice on a hat-trick. In his first over he had Northeast caught at long on before yorking Matt Coles (11). Coles had been promoted up the order, but after hitting South African debutant Kyle Abbott’s first ball for six he struggled to lift the tempo thereafter.

Darren Stevens drove Franklin’s slower ball to long on and in his final over the New Zealander had Alex Blake caught at long on and Sam Billings at long off from successive deliveries. Toby Roland-Jones, Steve Finn and Paul Stirling also picked up wickets before leg spinner Nathan Sowter wrapped up the innings with two wickets on his debut for a Middlesex team who, on this evidence, look well equipped to improve on a poor record in the competition, having only reached the knockout stages once since 2006.

Earlier, none of the Kent bowlers had been spared when Morgan came out to join Stirling after the departure of Dawid Malan, who was playing his first game since breaking a finger six weeks ago, and Nick Compton. Stirling hit two sixes in off-spinner Adam Riley’s first over and as their partnership flourished it appeared the two batsmen were enjoying their own individual hitting contest.

Stirling struck seven sixes and six boundaries and it was a surprise when he was out in the 14th over trying to clear the mid-wicket boundary off Stevens. Morgan lost little in comparison but after he was well held by Blake in front of the pavilion off Middlesex struggled to maintain their tempo.

Australian Joe Burns was foxed by Coles’ slower ball in the penultimate over and its was left to Franklin to take his side past 200, although in the end Middlesex had more than enough as Kent suffered their record defeat in the competition.

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