As if losing a game of cricket is bad enough, well try losing two within a matter of hours.
Middlesex’s hyped T20 Blast double-header on Saturday did not go to plan in terms of boosting the side’s chances of progressing through to the latter stages of the competition.
Opening game losses to both Essex and Sussex will not have pleased the home contingent of the crowd that gathered at Lord’s. Two contrasting performances – separated by an interval of just over an hour – both yielded the same pointless reward.
Essex Eagles were the first opponents, and the hosts started strongly, posting 180-5 having been asked to bat first by visiting captain, Mark Pettini.
Dawid Malan made 86 not out and along with Eoin Morgan (77) Middlesex looked strong contenders to start the day with a win. A partnership of 118 between the pair for the second wicket helped set the Eagles and intimidating victory target of 181.
But there was little that the Panthers bowlers could do to prevent Essex from surging to victory. Captain Pettini opened the batting with England skipper, Alastair Cook, and the top two shared an opening stand of 81 before Cook was dismissed for 22.
The fall of wicket at the other end did little to deter Pettini, who would end the innings on 95*, unable to record a century as the victory total was surpassed with seven balls of the innings still remaining.
He received good support from Jesse Ryder and Ravi Bopara as Essex won the game by eight wickets.
After a brief interval, Middlesex were back out at Lord’s again, this time to play Sussex.
But unlike the first match of the day, this one was to be a low-scoring affair. Electing to bowl this time around after winning the toss, Eoin Morgan witnessed his team put in a much-improved performance with the ball.
Toby Roland-Jones was the pick of the bowlers, claiming figures of 3-25 as Sussex were limited to 128 all out. Requiring 50 runs less than what they had recorded earlier in the afternoon, Middlesex again looked favourites to secure victory.
But their batting performances declined as the day wore on, with only five players making it to double figures in the second fixture.
Malan (23) and Morgan (30) were yet again the side’s top scorers, but they didn’t have a big enough impact as the Panthers tamely culminated their allotted overs on 115-6 – consequently losing by 13 runs.
The successive defeats are a poor start to Middlesex’s T20 campaign, but the Southern county still have plenty of time to climb the table
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