Essex move off the bottom with a win over Middlesex

Ravi Bopara, who bowled well to help secure Essex a win over Middlesex.

Ravi Bopara, who bowled well to help secure Essex a win over Middlesex. - Credit: Andrew Partridge

Ravi Bopara and Mohammad Amir bowled typically miserly four-over spells, conceding just 24 and 25 runs respectively, to keep alive Essex’s outside chance of qualifying for the knockout stages of NatWest T20 Blast tonight.

Essex’s fourth win of the season moved them off the foot of the south group, but they require wins from their final three games to stand any hope of a quarter-final spot.

Bopara and Amir, who both claimed two wickets each, were well supported in the parsimonious stakes by Dan Lawrence and Simon Harmer as Middlesex were pulled up nine runs short in their pursuit of 173.

Nathan Sowter, the 24-year-old Australian leg-spinner, blasted a hole in the middle of the Essex innings with career-best T20 figures of four for 23, but Adam Wheater’s 21-ball 43 laid the foundations for the home win.

Essex, put in, raced past 50 in the fifth over when Wheater drove Tim Southee straight for his fourth boundary. Varun Chopra matched his opening partner almost run-for-one as they put on 56 for the first wicket, scooping Tim Barber over fine leg for six. But he fell when chipping at catchable height to James Franklin at midwicket.

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Wheater maintained his sharp upturn in form with the ball, and lofted Ryan Higgins for two sixes in an over to long leg. But he departed when he tried to chop Sowter’s first ball to third man and was bowled.

Dan Lawrence came down the wicket and smashed Barber past the bowler for four, but tried to lift Sowter over long leg for six and was comfortably caught by Southee. Ashar Zaidi soon followed him back into the pavilion.

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After contributing 27 from 25 balls, Bopara was caught on the long-leg boundary by Franklin. Sowter added a fourth wicket in the same over when he had James Foster lbw first ball attempting to sweep.

Ryan ten Doeschate’s innings of 25 was ended by a running catch on the cover boundary by George Scott, and Harmer soon followed, while Mohammad Amir was run out from the last ball, leaving Paul Walter on 20 not out.

Middlesex lost Paul Stirling in the second over of their disappointing reply, which ended with them needing 26 from the final over with three wickets left, and 12 off the last ball.

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