MIDDLESEX WIN BY 1 WICKET
MATCH REPORT PROVIDED BY ECB INDEPENDENT REPORTER NETWORK
Steven Finn hit a dramatic winning boundary off Ravi Rampaul to earn Middlesex a nerve-shredding one-wicket victory in the NatWest T20 Blast against Surrey before a near sell-out 27,205 London derby crowd at a floodlit Lord’s.
A sudden Middlesex collapse left Middlesex needing nine runs from the last three overs but with three wickets still intact. Then Jade Dernbach had Nathan Sowter caught at cover and John Simpson, trying to turn Ravi Rampaul to leg, was caught for 7 off a leading edge. From 133 for 3, chasing 159, Middlesex had staggered to 153 for 9.
That left last man Finn coming in to join Tom Helm with six still required. He survived a close lbw appeal from Rampaul before the next ball, also angled into his pads, flew away for four leg byes. Rampaul’s next ball, the fourth of the 19th over, was an attempted slower ball and Finn clipped the resulting full toss to the mid wicket ropes amid wild scenes.
Surrey captain Gareth Batty had earlier taken 4 for 14 with his off spin, including a double-wicket maiden in the 16th over when he dismissed both Eoin Morgan and Tim Southee, to set in motion the collapse which produced such a thrilling finish on a two-paced pitch.
Only Kumar Sangakkara, with 70 from 42 balls, took the attack to Middlesex’s bowlers for anything other than a brief cameo and Surrey’s eventual 158 for 9 never looked enough.
Dawid Malan and Paul Stirling began the chase well, the left-handed Malan hitting two fours in the first over from Dernbach and the stocky Stirling plundering two fours and a remarkable swatted six over wide third man from Sam Curran’s opening over.
At 37, and after Malan had driven Rampaul’s first ball high for four, Stirling fell for 23 in that same fourth over as he mishit to mid off. Malan, however, twice swung Rampaul for huge legside sixes in a sixth over which ended with Middlesex well ahead of the required rate at 64 for one.
Middlesex T20 captain Brendon McCullum made only 9 before slugging Batty’s second ball high to long on, where 39-year-old Sangakkara took a good tumbling catch to his right, and Surrey’s hopes rose when Malan chipped a low catch to Ollie Pope at extra cover from a ball which seemed to grip the surface.
Malan made 41 from 26 balls, and his early aggression allowed Morgan and Franklin time to steady Middlesex’s reply, which they did with a judicious mixture of easy singles and the odd more adventurous stroke in a fourth wicket stand of 53 in six overs.
That looked to be guiding Middlesex to a comfortable victory, but then Batty returned to have Morgan caught at point for 31, with Southee slogging the next ball into the hands of long off.
Ryan Higgins drove his first ball for four, off Tom Curran, and then pulled his next for six. The next, however, was edged behind as Higgins went for 10 and the slide continued when Franklin was bowled later in Curran’s over for 23. Then came the fall of both Sowter and Simpson, and Finn’s late heroics.
It was Surrey’s first defeat in the south group, after winning their first two games, while Middlesex added another two points to the one they gained for a thrilling tie against Gloucestershire at Cheltenham last Friday.
The match began with Finn’s opening over, the second of the innings, being taken for 17 runs as Aaron Finch followed two legside fours with a pulled six into the Mound Stand. With Finch already having collected a five in the opening over, a direct hit run out attempt by Higgins deflecting off the bowlers’ stumps and racing away for four overthrows, Surrey were off to a flyer.
Southee tried to stem the early flow of runs, producing a beauty to have Dom Sibley caught behind for 5 in his second over with the new ball, and when Helm replaced him at the Nursery End he bowled Finch for 22 through an attempted heave at his first delivery.
Helm’s opening over only cost a single but Sangakkara increased the tempo again by lofting the unhappy Finn high over the covers for six and then taking a couple of steps down the pitch to swing Helm magnificently over long on for another maximum.
Sowter’s introduction for the eighth over saw the Australian-born leg-spinner knock back Ben Foakes’ off stump with his first ball, the England Lions wicketkeeper-batsman only briefly firing with 13, but teenager Pope – who also made 13 - then added 23 with Sangakkara before he was bamboozled and bowled by a slower ball from the returning Southee.
The Curran brothers did not last long, Stirling’s off spin accounting for them both. Sam was bowled for 5, back when he should have been forward, and Tom was also bowled, for 4, when he tried to force square a ball which seemed to creep through a little low to hit his off stump halfway up.
Sangakkara, though, hit Franklin’s left-arm seam high over extra cover for six and also drove and swung fours off the same bowler in a 16th over costing 18. When Finn returned for the 19th over, however, nursing figures of 0 for 40 from his first three overs, the great Sri Lankan left-hander diverted a low full toss into his own stumps as he tried an unconventional flick to leg from outside his off stump.
That success also allowed Finn to concede just two singles from his final over and, with Helm also bowling tightly in a 20th over in which Batty hit him straight to extra cover and Rampaul picked out deep square leg to go for ducks, the Surrey innings ended with something of a whimper.
Surrey were missing opener Jason Roy, because of a shoulder injury, while Kevin Pietersen is not scheduled to make his T20 Blast comeback until next Wednesday, in the home match against Essex.