Middlesex v Essex Eagles
Middlesex: Stevie Eskinazi, Joe Cracknell, Nick Gubbins, Daryl Mitchell, John Simpson (wk), Luke Hollman, Chris Green, Nathan Sowter, Tom Helm, Blake Cullen, Steven Finn (c).
Essex Eagles: Will Buttleman, Adam Wheater (wk), Dan Lawrence, Michael Pepper, Jimmy Neesham, Ryan ten Doeschate, Paul Walter, Simon Harmer (c), Aron Nijjar, Sam Cook, Jamie Porter.
Umpires: Ian Gould & Paul Baldwin.
Toss: Essex Eagles who elected to field.
Result: Essex Eagles won by 2 wickets
Match Reaction: Dan Lawrence
Simon Harmer saw Essex Eagles to victory by 2 wickets in a dramatic conclusion to the Vitality Blast match with Middlesex at Lord’s.
Chasing a Middlesex score of 183-2, The Eagles appeared on course for a comfortable win after Dan Lawrence featured in half-century partnerships with Michael Pepper and Jimmy Neesham.
But when Lawrence’s fine innings of 59 ended when he was caught in the deep off Tom Helm, the innings went into rapid decline.
Lawrence and Pepper had combined for a stand of 67 for the third wicket before Pepper departed for 43 made from 32 balls and then Lawrence and Neesham took the total onto 170 with a 57 runs liaison but the dismissal of Lawrence, who had faced 37 balls and struck 4 boundaries including 2 sixes saw the wheels start to come off.
Five wickets fell in 10 balls for 9 runs.
Nesham followed Lawrence back to the dug-out in the same Helm over but the next over, sent down by Daryl Mitchell was even more dramatic. He took 3 wickets in 4 balls as Paul Walter (1), Ryan ten Doeschate (0) and Aron Nijjar (4) perished to leave the Eagles 179-8 with 2 balls of the match remaining and 5 runs wanted.
Sam Cook collected a single leaving Harmer to face his first ball and the last of the game. Harmer, no stranger to tense situations (remember the 2019 T20 Final), carved the ball down to the vacant third man boundary to see the Eagles home.
The Eagles made one enforced change from the side that beat Surrey on Monday night with Jamie Porter replacing Shane Snater who was suffering with a back spasm.
Put into bat in front of a 6,500 crowd, the Middlesex innings was dominated by opener Steve Eskinazi who carried his bat for a maiden T20 century. It was a chanceless knock containing 2 sixes and 11 fours from the 61 balls he faced as he ended on 102 not out.
He and fellow opening batsman Joe Cracknell got the innings off to a fine start putting on 80 in 8.5 overs and exploiting the short boundary on the Tavern side before Cracknell, on 29, missed an attempted sweep to Nijjar and departed leg before wicket.
New Zealand international Mitchell joined Eskinazi but initially, they struggled to impose themselves on the Eagles attack who at one stage, sent down 30 successive deliveries without conceding a boundary before Mitchell ended the sequence in the middle of the 14th over.
They gradually upped the tempo but stand was worth 64 in 7 overs with Mitchell having contributed 29 before Neesham had his fellow Kiwi caught in the deep by Pepper.
Eskinazi though was closing in on his century and it duly arrived in the final over of the home side’s innings when he collected a couple of runs with a lofted shot behind square on the leg side.
But it was all in vain as Harmer was to have the last word and earn the Eagles their second win in four days.