MIDDLESEX WON BY 7 WICKETS (D/L METHOD): GLOUCESTERSHIRE 254-8 (50 overs); MIDDLESEX 211-3 (31.3 overs)
Paul Stirling hit a fluent century as Middlesex inflicted a third Royal London One-Day Cup defeat in as many games on holders Gloucestershire by seven wickets under the Duckworth-Lewis system at Bristol.
The home side posted 254 for eight after losing the toss, Hamish Marshall top-scoring with 74 on the day he announced that his 11-year stint with the county would end when this season is over. Gareth Roderick contributed 64, while Toby Roland-Jones (three for 36) was the pick of the Middlesex attack.
James Fuller claimed two for 45 on returning to his former county. Facing a revised target of 208 from 35 overs following a rain break, Middlesex skated to victory with 21 balls to spare, Ireland batsman Stirling reaching his ton off 87 balls, with 11 fours and 3 sixes, before finishing unbeaten on 125.
Gloucestershire’s innings had got off to a poor start when Chris Dent miscued Roland-Jones to cover where Nick Gubbins took a comfortable catch in only the second over. Michael Klinger had survived a loud shout for a catch behind in the opening over from Tom Helm, but looked in good touch moving to 20 before edging a defensive shot off Roland-Jones straight to Ollie Rayner at slip.
Roderick had made only 13 when badly dropped by Eoin Morgan at point off Helm, an error which allowed the batsman to share the most meaningful partnership of the innings with Marshall. The latter hit a straight six off James Franklin and Roderick followed suit off Fuller to bring up 100 in the 21st over.
When both Roderick and Marshall reached 62-ball half-centuries in quick succession the hosts looked set for a big score. Then Roderick overbalanced in making an ugly mishit off Helm and was caught at mid-off by Franklin.
That was 150 for three and Gloucestershire still looked well placed as 31 more runs were added before their innings turned sour in the 35th over, bowled by Roland-Jones. Rayner did the damage, running out Cockbain for 14 at the bowlers end from short mid-wicket as he was sent back attempting a quick single and three balls later catching Marshall in the same position off a poor shot.
Suddenly the home side were 183 for five and needed to rebuild. There was never much momentum to the innings after that as Benny Howell, Kieran Noema-Barnett and Craig Miles fell without making much impression.
Stirling was dropped on one by Klinger at second slip off Liam Norwell in the third over of the Middlesex reply. The visitors had reached 17 without loss when rain brought an interruption. The revised target left them requiring a further 191 from 28.5 overs under the floodlights.
Stirling hit 2 sixes over mid-wicket off Howell in racing to a half-century off 44 balls. Dawid Malan contributed 29 to an opening stand of 84 before being well caught at deep extra cover by Dent off Miles. Gubbins was dropped by Miles at fine leg on 17 off the unlucky Norwell and, with Stirling continuing to play positively, it was a mistake Gloucestershire could not afford.
By the time Gubbins, on 37, skied a catch to mid-on off Matt Taylor, Middlesex were 156 for two, needing only 52 off more than 12 overs. Morgan perished at the death, but Stirling batted through and hit the winning boundary.