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Middlesex v Hampshire: Match Report

Hampshire moved to the top of the NatWest T20 Blast’s South Group last night by overpowering Middlesex by 21 runs in front of a crowd of around 18,000 at Lord’s.

Michael Carberry’s 72 not out from 44 balls, and an equally fine innings of 64 from 45 balls by Owais Shah, underpinned Hampshire’s impressive 199 for five, and Middlesex could only reply with 178 for nine.

Paul Stirling smashed a six and nine fours in an explosive 27-ball 54, but when he was caught and bowled by Yasir Arafat in the 11th over, to leave Middlesex 107 for four, they never looked like chasing down their victory target.

It is Hampshire’s fifth win in seven South Group games, while Middlesex have won only two of their seven matches and remain at the bottom of the group.

Stirling was joined in an explosive third wicket stand of 88 in 7.5 overs by John Simpson, who also impressed with 35 from 24 balls, featuring a six and three fours, before he perished to a catch at long on to give Will Smith a second scalp with his innocuous-looking off breaks.

Smith had also struck in the first over of Middlesex’s reply, having Nick Compton caught and bowled for a third ball duck, and the home side were 9 for 2 when Nick Gubbins was leg-before to Jackson Bird.

Stirling, however, revived the innings by taking 24 off the fifth over, bowled by the unfortunate Chris Wood. The left-arm seamer was swung high over mid wicket for six and, with a wide thrown in, was also taken for four offside fours by the Irishman – the first two punched through the covers and the last two angled away to third man.

Simpson hit Danny Briggs for a successive six and four, and it was only when he and Stirling departed in the 10th and 11th overs that Middlesex’s challenge faded away.

James Franklin did his best with some defiant blows, but Andrew Balbirnie and Neil Dexter were both dismissed cheaply by Danny Briggs’s left arm spin and when Ollie Rayner was run out and Franklin adjudged lbw for a 24-ball 35 in the 17th over, all that remained was for Middlesex’s lower order to bat out the remaining overs.

Hampshire’s total was built upon a superb third wicket partnership of 118 in 12.1 overs between Carberry and Shah.

The two veteran batsmen – Shah is 36 and Carberry 34 – constructed their stand along classical lines, at first predominantly pushing singles and rotating the strike but later hitting boundaries with great power as they set about the Middlesex attack.

Shah was visibly annoyed when he got himself out by stepping back into his own stumps when swinging a ball from Kyle Abbott high over deep square leg for what would have been his third six. As it was, as umpire Graham Lloyd raised his arms high to signal the six to the scorers, Shah was stomping off swishing his bat in anger at his clumsiness.

They came together at 27 for two, after James Vince and Jimmy Adams fell trying to take full advantage of the initial six-over powerplay.

Vince was bowled by Abbott for 14 aiming something violent soon after he had marked his call-up to England’s Twenty20 international squad by taking three fours from the second over of the game, bowled by Harry Podmore, and Adams was leg-before to off spinner Rayner as he attempted to reverse sweep.

Carberry and Shah had only just started to accelerate when Hampshire reached the halfway point of the innings at 71 for two, but 60 runs came from the next five overs as Shah hit Rayner for 4, 6, 4 from successive balls in a 14th over costing 17.

The 12th over had brought 13 runs, too, with Carberry mainly responsible for that, and Shah took a cheeky two for a free hit at James Harris which he launched high into the hands of long off for a ‘catch’ that didn’t count.

Towards the end of his innings, there was one flashing cover drive from Shah, off Podmore, which beat a boundary fielder in front of the Grand Stand even though the ball hit the ropes just ten yards from where he had been positioned.

Sean Ervine, replacing Shah, took fours from the first three balls he faced – including a brilliant ramp shot from his first delivery from Abbott – and then smashed Harris straight for six soon after Carberry had swung the same bowler over mid wicket for a maximum.

Ervine’s 20, which was ended by a magnificent diving catch by Balbirnie, who sprinted in from long on before throwing himself forward, took only seven balls and, in all, Hampshire plundered 68 from the last five overs.

Carberry carved Abbott for two final fours in a 20th over in which the South African fast bowler was punished for 20 runs and contained two no balls.

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