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Dawid Malan scores century as Middlesex beat Essex in Pro40
An expertly-timed century by Dawid Malan (136) secured Middlesex’s 54-run victory via the Duckworth Lewis method to ensure their Pro40 campaign ended on a high against an Essex side whose quality never translated from paper to the field of play.
Essex won the toss and put their opponents in to bat, which initially seemed the perfect decision as after three balls star opener Joe Denly (nought) was caught behind off the fast bowling of Tim Phillips (one for 33).
Paul Stirling (29), coming in match earlier than we would have hoped, formed a very useful 63-run partnership with Malan before edging behind to wicketkeeper Foster off fast bowler Greg Smith (two for 32).
Despite batsmen coming and going at the other end, Malan continued to play an array of attractive-looking strokes and formed a dominant 132-run partnership with Gareth Berg (61).
Malan hit an exquisite cover-drive to bring up a classy century, going on to score 136 in an entertaining innings containing 12 fours and three sixes, including one huge six down the ground off Indian star spinner Harbhajan Singh (one for 63).
Malan’s impeccable innings eventually came to a close midway through the 38th over, cleanly hitting another big shot off the bowling of Harbhajan Singh but straight into the hands of Maurice Chambers, who managed to take the catch at the second attempt on the boundary.
The damage had very much been done though, and Middlesex finished their innings with a highly competitive score of 288 after 40 overs.
Essex, facing the daunting task of needing to score more than seven runs per over, got off to a poor start.
Scoring just 35 runs off the first eight overs, the pressure was mounting on openers Mark Pettini and Tom Westley (68) to up the tempo in their innings. However, the highly-aggressive opener Pettini departed for 29 off the bowling of impressive 20-year-old left-arm paceman Gurjit Sandhu (three for 28) after cutting the ball straight to Berg.
Surprisingly, Singh was promoted up the order to number three but he departed in a style befitting a bowler: sending a quick Corey Collymore (one for 20) delivery up in the air and straight back into the hands of the West Indian paceman.
When England international Ravi Bopara (two) was out edging behind to the wicketkeeper, Essex were in serious trouble at 51 for three after 11 overs.
Fortunately for Essex, Westley and Owais Shah (53) made an industrious 103-run partnership off 96 balls, with both players managing to find gaps in the field, but as the required run rate crept towards ten runs per over both batsmen were forced to play shots well outside their comfort zones, and in the space of two overs both were caught in the field by Greg Smith off the tidy right-arm spinner Paul Stirling (two for 22).
Essex’s innings never got going again and after 35 overs, with darkness descending over Lord’s, the umpires decided to call it a day, with Middlesex able to celebrate an impressive victory in front of their own crowd.