Middlesex 167-7 (20 overs) beat Essex Eagles 156-8 (20) by 11 runs
Teenager Luke Hollman starred with both bat and ball as Middlesex clinched their first victory in the Vitality Blast, overcoming defending champions Essex Eagles by 11 runs at Lord’s.
The 19-year-old leg-spinner, making only his second senior appearance, struck a valuable unbeaten 25 to stem a Middlesex batting collapse and lift them to 167-7 after Stephen Eskinazi and Max Holden had posted an opening stand of 97.
Hollman then returned figures of 2-26 to restrict Essex – who have failed to win any of their first four games in this season’s Blast – to 156-8 in reply.
Middlesex captain Steven Finn backed up the youngster with 3-18, including the key wicket of Ryan ten Doeschate, who had threatened to guide the Eagles home with his knock of 32 from 25 balls.
Spin duo Simon Harmer (2-23) and Dan Lawrence (1-31) appeared to have turned the game on its head as they stifled Middlesex in the middle overs, following the opening partnership between Eskinazi (51) and Holden (46).
Holden took a liking to Aron Nijjar, striking the slow left-armer for three sixes while Eskinazi looked strong outside the off stump, cutting Matt Quinn over point to the boundary as the home side made good progress after being asked to bat.
Medium-pacer Cameron Delport eventually made the breakthrough for the Eagles at the start of the 11th over, trapping Holden leg before – and Middlesex wickets immediately began to tumble.
Eskinazi, having reached his third consecutive T20 half-century from 37 balls by cutting Delport for two, paddled the next one into the hands of Quinn at backward square, and Martin Andersson (2) followed in Harmer’s next over.
John Simpson, promoted up the order to three, did his best to rally Middlesex with 16 at a run a ball, before he fell to an excellent catch by Ryan ten Doeschate, running around from fine leg.
It was mainly thanks to a bustling 25 not out from 18 deliveries by Hollman – who went for his shots, smoking a straight six off Shane Snater – that the home side clambered to 167-7 in their 20 overs.
Tom Helm raised Middlesex’s hopes of defending that total by capturing the wicket of Varun Chopra (4), lbw to a straight one in the first over, but Delport (20) and Tom Westley looked comfortable as they made solid starts.
The dangerous Delport appeared to be well set as he survived a top edge that flew between the fielders and then clubbed Miguel Cummins into the pavilion for six.
However, both batsmen perished to neatly-taken catches, with Westley (18) top-edging a hook off Cummins into the hands of Hollman at backward square and Dan Lincoln racing in from cover to pluck out Delport’s drive just above the turf.
Dan Lawrence also appeared to have settled at the crease, reaching 23 from 20 balls before he drove Hollman straight to long-off – and the youngster, in tandem with fellow leg-spinner Nathan Sowter (0-27) applied the brakes.
Middlesex continued to hold their catches, with Nick Gubbins taking a skier to remove Paul Walter (7) off Finn before ten Doeschate picked out Holden at long-on later in the same over.
Although Harmer (23 off 12) hammered Cummins for two sixes to keep his side in with a sniff, the game was up for Essex when Helm yorked him with two balls remaining.
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