MIDDLESEX WON BY 4 RUNS: MIDDLESEX 92-3 (9 OVERS); SOMERSET 88-6 (9 OVERS)
Dawid Malan hit 53 not out from 28 balls to display the batting form that has won him an England T20 call-up, and the twenty runs he took from the last over of Middlesex’s innings ultimately proved the difference in a thrilling 4-run victory against Somerset in a NatWest T20 Blast south group match reduced to nine overs per side by bad weather.
Malan was joined by John Simpson in a blazing unbroken fourth wicket stand of 52 in 3.4 overs to haul Middlesex up to 92 for 3, and Somerset could only score 88 for 6 in reply.
Steven Finn bowled the crucial last over and held his nerve despite bowling a no ball straight after having Jamie Overton caught by Brendon McCullum at long on from the third ball. That produced a free hit, from which Craig Overton collected two runs for a smear to leg, but a dot ball from a full delivery which the batsman missed and then a single to extra cover clinched the game for Middlesex.
McCullum, in his first appearance at Lord’s in his short stint at Middlesex, managed just one four over extra cover before falling for 7 but Malan struck four sixes and two fours and Simpson’s 26 not out from 12 balls also included two sixes and two fours.
Middlesex T20 captain Malan said afterwards: “John changed the momentum of our innings and getting those runs off the last over of our innings helped us a lot. But to defend that total was a great effort and Finny showed at the end why he is an international bowler.”
Jim Allenby, the Somerset captain, top-scored with 17, Johann Myburgh was superbly held by a diving Finn at wide long on for 12 and Mahela Jayawardene fell for a first ball duck when he was spectacularly caught by Paul Stirling diving to his right at point off a full-blooded cut at Fuller. Peter Trego hit three fours in his 14 before being bowled by leg spinner Nathan Sowter.
Allenby said: “We were happy to keep them to that total and we should have chased it down. No one in our side could play the sort of innings that Dawid Malan played for them. Even someone getting 30 would have been good. Yet we had our chances to win at the end but we couldn’t take them. It was a good game of cricket and the conditions were fine.”
Somerset needed 29 to win from the last three overs after their top order had got them to 64 for 4 after the first 36 balls of the innings.
Toby Roland-Jones then Lewis Gregory caught by McCullum at long on for 10, from a mishit full toss, and just five runs from the over gave him figures of 1 for 14 as well as making Somerset’s chase that much more difficult.
Roelof van der Merwe slashed Fuller high over cover for six but the final over began with 13 runs still needed.
The Lord’s groundstaff worked wonders to get conditions fit for an 8.15pm start after heavy rain had earlier threatened to wash away the fixture. Once again, however, the quality of the Lord’s drainage system meant the outfield dried out remarkably quickly and rewarded a large crowd for their optimism and patience.
For entertainment value, too, it was well worth the wait with 21 runs plundered from the first over of the match to set the tone for an often explosive contest that was also full of superb catching and ground fielding on damp grass which glistened under the Lord’s floodlights.
Malan flicked the first ball he faced effortlessly over mid wicket for six and the opening over finished with the left-hander lifting Tim Groenewald’s fast-medium high over extra cover for another maximum.
Somerset did well to rein in Middlesex for a while after that, with both Jamie and Craig Overton producing excellent first overs, and Lewis Gregory perhaps doing most to check the scoring rate by dismissing McCullum in the fourth over.
Stirling and James Franklin went for 1 and 0 respectively, leg spinner Max Waller having Stirling brilliantly caught by Jamie Overton diving forward at deep mid wicket in the fifth over and Franklin going second ball when he missed a mow at van der Merwe’s left arm spin.
That left Middlesex struggling at 43 for 3 from six overs but Simpson pulled Craig Overton for six before almost taking Gregory’s head off with a straight four and then seizing on a slower ball to smash it over the long on boundary for another six.
Malan then took over, driving Jamie Overton straight for six at the start of a final over which also included a cleverly flicked four over short fine leg, a couple of scampered twos into the legside and, finally, a beautifully-struck six over extra cover to round off the innings in style. It also proved to be a vital blow.