Middlesex return to Lord’s tomorrow evening with their sights set firmly on ending a run of results which has seen them lose six straight games in the Vitality Blast. In a campaign which has only seen the Seaxes win two of the twelve games they’ve played to date, they sit at the bottom of the South Group table, with only pride left to play for.
Tomorrow Middlesex will face Essex, who unlike in previous years, have struggled themselves this term in the short format of the game. Essex sit just two points ahead of the Seaxes as it stands and a win for Dawid Malan’s men tomorrow would see them move ahead of the Eagles in the group on net run rate.
Last time out at Beckenham Middlesex made significant improvements on recent form when running Kent close in an exciting and hard-fought encounter! Despite there being more positives to take from the performance, the hosts ultimately prevailed, condemning Middlesex to their sixth successive defeat.
With just two games remaining in the Blast, Middlesex will be hoping to finish on a high note, to build some confidence and winning momentum before they return to County Championship action on Sunday, when Dawid Malan will take his side to Wantage Road to take on second bottom Northants, in what is the first of six crucial four-day encounters that will define Middlesex’s season.
The away match-up between Essex and Middlesex all the way back in early May saw the Eagles triumph by three wickets with just one ball to spare in their run chase, in a game that arguably Middlesex should have won in Chelmsford. Since then both sides have managed just one win each and are in dire need of the tonic of a victory tomorrow.
Essex have leading run-scorer Varun Chopra to thank for the vast majority of their runs this year, with the right-hander responsible for 415 of their total runs scored – almost 200 more than any other batsman in the Essex line-up. Chopra has been in rude form in the Blast this term and is one of only nine batsmen to pass 400 runs in the competition to date and averages a very healthy 37.72.
With the ball, Essex’s reliance to date has been on the leg-spin of Adam Zampa, who took twelve wickets for the Eagles before departing to the Caribbean Premier League last month. With no other bowler having yet taken more than five wickets in the competition, Essex’s attack has been severely depleted since his departure.
Middlesex Head Coach Daniel Vettori has named a squad of fourteen for tomorrow’s clash against Essex, with both Steven Finn and Nathan Sowter returning to the squad, to join the twelve named against Kent at the weekend.
Dawid Malan (captain)