Middlesex will head to Canterbury tomorrow with a fifteen-man squad to face Kent in the first of three must-win Vitality Blast encounters over the next week.
Following last night’s disappointing defeat to Surrey, in a high-scoring London derby at Lord’s, Middlesex now know that they must secure three successive wins in the competition to give themselves any chance of reaching the knockout stages of the competition.
Last night, Surrey were brutal with the bat, hitting the Middlesex attack for 218, although unphased in reply, Middlesex’s run chase remained on course for two thirds of the innings! The loss of John Simpson however, for 31, and Stephen Eskinazi, for 77, in quick succession, swung the momentum and ultimately the game in Surrey’s direction, as the Middlesex chase faltered deep in the innings, falling thirty runs short to see Surrey take the points.
Eskinazi maintained his incredible form in this format of the game, as his fourth half-century in seven knocks saw him rise to the top of the competitions leading run-scorers’ board, with his 350 runs coming at exactly 50.00.
Middlesex will need Eskinazi and others around him to go hard again in Canterbury, and last night it was the experienced Simpson and young Joe Cracknell, on debut, who stood up, each offering valuable contributions in what ultimately proved to be a lost cause.
Middlesex skipper Steven Finn was uncharacteristically off form last night, as the competitions’ second highest wicket-taker had a fruitless evening with the ball, going for 48 from his four overs. Others in the attack faced the same fate, and they’ll need to be back on the money against Kent tomorrow.
Whilst there’s now complete clarity on what Middlesex must do to give themselves hope of securing a path to the knockout stages, for Kent, who currently sit in second place in the South Group table, they still face a nervy run in to the end of the group stages before securing their place in the quarters.
Defeat tomorrow to Middlesex would leave Kent certainly needing to win one, if not two, from their remaining two matches, which are against the two in-form sides in the South Group, Sussex and Surrey. With so much riding on tomorrow’s match, it should be an absolute thriller.
Zak Crawley was the difference for Kent yesterday against Hampshire, as he hit a brilliant unbeaten hundred to take him to 304 Blast runs for the summer, and whilst failing yesterday, Daniel Bell-Drummond has also shone with the bat this year, hitting 269 runs at almost 45 for the Spitfires.
Kent take some momentum into tomorrow’s game, having beaten bottom side Hampshire comfortably yesterday afternoon at the Ageas Bowl, and Middlesex will need to put a stop to Kent’s charge tomorrow at the Spitfire Ground if they are to keep their season alive.
The game starts at 2pm, behind closed doors, although fans wishing to watch the game online can do so, by tuning in to the Middlesex website and watching the live stream, provided tomorrow by our hosts Kent.
Stuart Law has named the following fifteen-man squad to take on Kent…
Steven Finn (c)
John Simpson (wk)