Another superb performance at Lord’s yesterday against Glamorgan put Middlesex in pole-position to claim a knockout place in the South Group of the Royal London One-Day Cup. They will head to Canterbury tomorrow knowing that anything but defeat to Kent will see them qualify for Friday’s play-off match to secure a place in the semi-finals.
Much like at Radlett last week, where Middlesex comprehensively turned over Somerset, Nathan Sowter was the pick of the bowlers, as another four wickets for the leg-spinner took his tally in the competition to 22 - more than any other bowler in the One-Day Cup this term. Sowter’s efforts, along with those of a resurgent Toby Roland-Jones, who picked up 3 for 46 himself, saw visitors Glamorgan bowled out at HQ for a below par 285.
In reply, Middlesex had Sam Robson (79) and Nick Gubbins (92) to thank for building the platform for a successful run chase, as the pair again hit crucial knocks to help chase down their victory target with two and a half overs to spare. It took a Captain’s knock from Stephen Eskinazi however to see his side over the line, an unbeaten 71, as victory banked a crucial two points and took Middlesex to ten points in the South Group, with a record of five wins from seven matches played.
Elsewhere, defeats for Somerset and Sussex completed a perfect day for Middlesex, as both sides dropped vital points and allowed Middlesex to leapfrog above them into second place in the group with just one round of matches remaining.
Hampshire have already grabbed the top spot in the South Group, and with fourteen points now cannot be caught, which leaves Middlesex, on 10, Somerset, Gloucestershire and Sussex - all on 8 points, battling it out to secure the remaining two knockout places.
Whilst Middlesex play Kent in Canterbury, knowing that anything but defeat will see them qualify for the knockout stages for the first time in the Royal London One-Day Cup’s history, Somerset face Surrey in Taunton, Gloucestershire travel to Essex, whilst Sussex host Glamorgan. With net run rates in favour of the two sides directly below them, Middlesex will be setting their sights on securing a positive result of their own in Canterbury to make results elsewhere irrelevant.
Having not secured a single victory in their opening five One-Day games this term and with their campaign over before it had even begun, tomorrow’s opponents Kent have rallied and bounced back in their last two encounters, securing wins over both Surrey and Essex to see them move off the foot of the table. Whilst they head into tomorrow’s clash with just pride to play for, they come into the game in good recent form and will be a dangerous prospect for Middlesex in this crucial encounter.
In an interview on the club’s website yesterday, Middlesex’s Lead Physio and Head of Medical Services, Pete Waxman, confirmed that Martin Andersson, Steven Finn and Dawid Malan are all side-lined with injuries for the foreseeable future, so all miss out, whilst Eoin Morgan, Paul Stirling and Tim Murtagh are all still absent on international duty.
Head Coach Stuart Law therefore names an unchanged squad from the one that beat Glamorgan yesterday, which will again be led by stand-in Captain Stephen Eskinazi, who looks to maintain his one hundred percent winning record as skipper.
Middlesex’s thirteen-man squad is as follows:
Stephen Eskinazi (Captain)
John Simpson (wicket-keeper)
Tomorrow’s match is a day/night floodlit encounter, starting at 1pm.