Middlesex’s victory over Kent at the Spitfire Ground in Canterbury on Tuesday night saw them qualify for tomorrow’s semi-final play-off match against Lancashire – their reward for finishing as South Group runners up with a record of six wins from eight games played in the competition’s group stage.
Max Holden was the star of the show in Canterbury, hitting a record List-A individual innings of 166 to take his place in the club’s record books, surpassing Andrew Strauss’s previous List-A record score of 163 set in 2008 against Surrey. Holden’s heroics also helped Middlesex post a record List-A innings total of 380, surpassing the 367 they hit in 2015 against Sussex at Hove.
Such is the transformation of Middlesex as a white-ball side under the coaching team of Stuart Law and Nic Pothas that they have hit three of their four highest ever List-A innings totals this season, with the 380 scored against Kent coming hot on the heels of the 366 they hit against Essex in Chelmsford and the 364 against Glamorgan at Radlett earlier in the campaign.
Another brace of wickets for the competition’s leading wicket-taker Nathan Sowter took the leg-spinner’s tally to an impressive 24 to date and tomorrow he’ll go up against the man who sits one place behind him in the wicket-taking leader-board, Lancashire’s Saqib Mahmood, who has 21. Sowter, who is now English qualified, has been Middlesex’s key performer with the ball to date, although he has been ably supported by the pace of Tom Helm and Toby Roland-Jones, who have 17 and 13 wickets respectively. On the batting front Nick Gubbins continues to shine, and leads the charge of the Middlesex batters with 417 runs at 69.50 after hitting a fine 47 against Kent to go with the four half-centuries he’d hit in his previous six innings in the competition.
Lancashire qualified for tomorrow’s semi-final play-off place by virtue of finishing third in the North Group, although unlike Middlesex, who come into tomorrow’s clash with three back to back wins under their belt, Lancashire will visit Lord’s having been beaten in their final group encounter after they went down by five wickets to Warwickshire.
Lancashire’s record of five wins from eight matches owes much to Mahmood, who has carried their attack throughout the campaign, and whilst the likes of Jimmy Anderson (four appearances) and Graham Onions (six appearances) have featured, it’s the right arm pace of Mahmood that has done the damage. With the bat Steven Croft is the competitions third highest run-scorer, with 438 runs at an average of 87.60, whilst the visitors’ Captain, Dane Vilas, has 354 at an average of 59.00.
Form and momentum is most certainly on Middlesex’s side going into tomorrow’s clash, although with Lancashire already having beaten Middlesex in the four-day format at the Home of Cricket earlier this season, they won’t be taken lightly by Law’s men. With a winning mentality instilled however and with the side playing with confidence throughout, Law will be hopeful that his side can reverse this result and continue their winning run tomorrow.
Once again Stephen Eskinazi will lead the Middlesex side out, with the unbeaten skipper looking to lead his side to their fourth successive victory. He takes charge of an unchanged squad for the Lancashire clash, with Middlesex naming the same thirteen as appeared against Kent.
Middlesex’s thirteen-man squad is as follows…
Stephen Eskinazi (Captain)
John Simpson (wicket-keeper)
Tomorrow’s day/night floodlit clash is being covered live by Sky Cricket and starts at 1pm at Lord’s - with gates opening at midday.
Tickets, priced at £22 for adults, £11 for over 65’s and just £5 for under 16’s, can be bought in advance as e-tickets from the Lord’s online ticket store HERE or tickets are also available to purchase on the day.