Middlesex Head Coach Stuart Law has named a squad of fifteen for Monday evening’s final home South Group clash of the Vitality Blast campaign tomorrow, when they’ll take on London rivals Surrey at Lord’s.
Law keeps faith in the squad that defeated Hampshire on Saturday by 19 runs, although is forced to make one change, as leg spinner Luke Hollman drops out of the fifteen, having turned an ankle in warm-ups ahead of Saturday’s clash at Lord’s.
Backing another spin option, Law names Thilan Walallawita as Hollman’s replacement for the London derby, with the left-arm spinner coming into the squad to make his T20 derby for the club if picked in the starting eleven after impressing in this season’s Bob Willis Trophy campaign.
Against Hampshire, on a slow deck at the Home of Cricket, Middlesex laboured a little with the bat, and runs seemed hard to come by, as Middlesex posted just 142 for 6 in their allotted twenty overs.
In-form Stephen Eskinazi maintained his good Blast form, top-scoring with 33 off 28 balls, to see him cement his position within the leading run scorers for the competition to date - with 273 runs at an average of 45.50, and only Luke Wright is ahead of him in the run-scoring chart, with 285 runs for the Sussex white-ball specialist!
Defending a total of 142 always looked difficult for Middlesex, however some exceptional bowling, combined with some magnificent fielding, saw Middlesex restrict Hampshire throughout the innings, with only two of the visitors’ batsmen reaching double figures. Nathan Sowter’s brilliant return catch to dismiss the dangerous Alsop, Hampshire’s top scorer, was the undoubted moment of the match in the field!
Once again it was skipper Steven Finn who stood out for the hosts' bowlers, picking up 3 for 27 from four very tidy overs to rightly earn the Knight Frank Player of the Match award, as he became the competitions’ outright leading wicket taker, with thirteen victims at an average of just 11.25.
The evergreen Tim Murtagh, playing his first T20 match for Middlesex for four years, proved to be at his reliable best, picking up 2 for 20 from his four overs, as Hampshire fell 19 runs short of the Middlesex total, dismissed for just 123 in 18.5 overs.
Middlesex will be looking to take this winning momentum into the London derby and reverse the result at the Oval, where a far more experienced Surrey side outplayed them a week ago, although with Monday’s visitors finding some form of their own to shout about in their last two games, it’ll be a closely fought contest at Lord’s on Monday as Middlesex look for revenge.
Another win for Middlesex could see them jump as high as second in the South Group table, dependant on run rates and results elsewhere, and would put them in a great position to mount a serious challenge for one of the quarter-final knockout places available, with three away games remaining in their campaign.
Monday’s encounter is another crucial one in a hotly contested South Group, and with this clash and Middlesex’s three remaining games all coming in the space of just seven days, gaining momentum for the run in will prove vital for qualification.
Members and fans can watch our final live stream broadcast of this behind closed doors match on the Middlesex website, with live coverage starting from Lord's at 6pm tomorrow, with build-up ahead of the big London derby!
Stuart Law’s fifteen-man squad for tomorrow’s clash is as follows:
Steven Finn (c)
John Simpson (wicket-keeper)