Middlesex will head into their final home match of the 2019 Vitality Blast South Group campaign at Uxbridge Sports Club tomorrow afternoon with their sights set on a return to winning ways as they look to nail down a place in next month’s knockout stages.
They go there following a disappointing defeat to Hampshire at Lord’s on Thursday night, where Middlesex skipper Dawid Malan was frustrated with his side’s inability to live up to the high standards they’ve set for most of the season’s campaign to date.
Batting first, the failure of any batsman to capitalise on a start and go on to build a meaningful innings cost them dearly, as did a lack of partnerships, as they posted an under-par total of 128, dismissed on the final ball of their allotted twenty overs. Hampshire’s reply looked assured, and defied their previous inconsistency, as a fine 69 from skipper James Vince built the the platform to set up their seven-wicket victory.
One positive that Middlesex can take from the Hampshire loss was the performance of Mohammad Hafeez – making his Middlesex debut. The Pakistan International bowled tightly in the powerplay overs and scored a run-a-ball 35 with the bat. With Ab de Villiers’ return still a game away, Middlesex will be looking for more of the same from ‘The Professor’ at Uxbridge tomorrow.
As Malan himself acknowledged in his post-match interview, losing T20 matches is par for the course and very much the nature of the format, but it was the manner in which his side lost that frustrated Middlesex’s skipper on Thursday night. He’s keen for his side to bounce back with a strong performance against Sussex on Saturday - something he rightly said they’ve successfully done on the back of defeats previously in this year’s tournament.
A win for Middlesex will as good as bank them a knockout place, with two further away games yet to come next week. Should those crucial two points come Middlesex’s way tomorrow at Uxbridge then the Seaxes can turn their minds to securing a home quarter final at Lord’s in a fortnight’s time.
Sussex too will come to Lord’s on the back of a loss, as they failed to make the most of Middlesex’s slip-up on Thursday – suffering defeat to Essex in Hove.
A win for Sussex tomorrow would, like Middlesex, as good as secure them their passage to the knockouts, and the visitors skipper Luke Wright will be looking for his side to bank that victory at Park Road tomorrow afternoon.
With so much at stake for both sides, it promises to be a thrilling and tense encounter.
Tomorrow’s visitors come with plenty of batting firepower in their ranks, with Phil Salt and Luke Wright leading the charge up top. With new Australian signing Jason Behrendorff settling in alongside leading wicket-taker Reece Topley, there’s plenty of penetration and pace in the bowling attack too, and Middlesex will need to be at their best to knock the Sharks off their table-topping perch tomorrow.
With fifth placed Somerset playing fourth placed Gloucestershire in Bristol tonight, and second place Kent hosting Surrey in Canterbury, the South Group table will get an overnight shake-up, although the objectives for Dawid Malan, Luke Wright and their respective sides on Saturday remain pretty clear – secure a crucial victory!
Middlesex Head Coach Stuart Law names a thirteen-man squad for Saturday’s trip to Uxbridge to take on Sussex, with thirteen of Thursday night’s squad retaining their place and Dan Lincoln and Max Holden missing out…
Dawid Malan (c)
John Simpson (wk)