Middlesex head into the second half of the Vitality Blast Group stages in excellent form, having secured their fifth victory of the campaign last night at a packed Lord’s against London rivals Surrey – a win which took Stuart Law’s side to within just two points of top spot of the South Group table.
Half centuries for both Eoin Morgan and AB de Villiers saw Middlesex post an impressive 210 for 8 in their innings before rolling Surrey for just 146, to secure an emphatic 64 run victory and bag their first T20 double over their London rivals since 2008!
Tonight, Middlesex head to Hove, where they’ll take on league leaders Sussex - the only unbeaten side remaining in the South Group table! The trip to the South Coast will provide Law’s men with another stiff test, against one of the other form sides in the competition, at a ground where Middlesex haven’t won in this format since 2015.
Whilst the firepower for Middlesex’s victory last night came from the willow of de Villiers’ and Morgan’s blades, it was an inspired bowling performance from paceman Steven Finn that claimed the man of the match award - looking back to his very best when taking career-best T20 figures of 5 for 16 to turn the game in Middlesex’s favour and see him move to joint second place in the competition’s wicket-taking list. Finn’s climb up the wicket-taking table sees him join three other Middlesex bowlers in the top ten wicket-takers to this point, along with Toby Roland-Jones, Tom Helm and Nathan Sowter. Middlesex’s bowling unit is looking as potent as any in the competition to this point and long may it continue.
With the bat Middlesex’s skipper Dawid Malan (272 runs at an average of 45) and Mr 360, AB de Villiers (253 runs at 84), are the form men for Middlesex, and they both reside inside the top ten run-scorers’ list so far this term. For Sussex the talented Phil Salt continues to excel at the top of the hosts’ order, and his 254 runs at 63 see him pose the biggest threat to Middlesex’s hopes of winning down on the South Coast. Luke Wright, so often a thorn in Middlesex’s side, also carries some form into the game, having hit 215 Blast runs already at an average of 43.
This evening’s encounter sees Middlesex’s and Sussex’s Afghanistan internationals go head to head, as Mujeeb ur Rahman goes up against Rashid Khan for the first time this season. To date Sussex’s Rashid has proved to be the more effective wicket-taker of the two, whilst the economy rate of Middlesex’s Mujeeb continues to impress in the opening power-play overs of each innings! Both are playing crucial, yet equally important roles for their respective sides.
Sussex sit pretty in pole position in the South Group, on twelve points from their opening seven matches - with five wins, one tie and one no result, whilst Middlesex sit just two points adrift, on ten, with five wins and two losses from their opening seven games. With a huge amount to play for tonight, Law will be hopeful that his side can continue their winning run with another victory in Hove which would see them overtake Sussex at the top of the table and get one over on his old Australia teammate Jason Gillespie.
With AB de Villiers now heading back to South Africa, Head Coach Law is forced into making changes, having previously had the luxury of naming a largely unchanged side in recent games. He names a thirteen-man squad for tonight’s trip to Hove with de Villiers dropping out:
Dawid Malan (Captain)
John Simpson (Wicket-keeper)
Mujeeb ur Rahman