Friday, 1st July 2005

Shah lifts the gloom


Vs: Essex

Match: T20

Venue: Southgate

Day 1

With both sides keen to play and with umpires Bailey and Steele happy to start play in light rain, the match began on time in the Twenty20 Cup at Southgate.

Ben Hutton won the toss and elected to bat first against Essex, with Middlesex making one change from the previous match with Paul Weekes replacing Ed Joyce on duty with Ireland.

Owais Shah and Ed Smith gave Middlesex another superb start with an opening partnership of exactly 100. Fifteen runs came off the opening over bowled by Andre Adams, and it was only Kaneria who managed to keep the Middlesex openers in check, conceding only 12 runs off his first three overs.

Shah reached his fifty, his fourth in six Twenty20 Cup matches, off only 27 balls (5 sixes and 3 fours). Ed Smith had made a run a ball 37 before he was first out, caught off James Middlebrook (off 36 balls, 3 fours).

Scott Styris joined Shah at the wicket, and they took 23 runs off a Bopara over before Shah’s fine innings ended when he holed out to Irani again off Middlebrook. His innings of 79 (off 42 balls, 7 sixes and 4 fours) took his Twenty20 aggregate to 325 runs in six innings (one of which was not out) at an average of 65.

Styris was out in the following over for 14 (off 8 balls) leaving the Middlesex total on 136-3 with 5 overs remaining. Hutton (3), Compton (5) and Dalrymple (18) sacrificed their wickets in the quest for quick runs before Irfan Pathan hit two successive sixes off Kaneria in the penultimate over. Ten runs were scored off the final over as the innings closed at 185-6. Pathan was 21 not out, scored off only 8 balls.

Fortunately the rain had ceased towards the end of the Middlesex innings, but the weather did still look threatening as Essex began their reply. Pathan bowled four wides in the opening over, but he did dismiss Cook who hit his second legitimate ball straight to Scott Styris at cover.

Pathan struck again in his second over when Essex captain Ronnie Irani was bowled for five. In his following over, Pathan trapped Bopara leg before for 21 and Scott Styris then had Andy Flower caught behind in his opening over. Styris also dismissed Pettini in his second to reduce Essex to 45-5 in the eighth over.

The two James’s, Foster and Middlebrook added 38 runs for the sixth wicket before Middlebrook was stumped off Jamie Dalrymple. Foster reached his fifty off 31 balls and with Adams took Essex to 146 in the penultimate over before Pathan took his fourth wicket, thanks to a magnificently judged diving catch by Ben Hutton to dismiss Adams for 25.

Seven runs were scored off the final over bowled by Melvyn Betts to leave Middlesex victors by 31 runs. Foster was 62 not out at the close (off 40 balls, 4 sixes and 2 fours).

Irfan Pathan finished with figures of 4-27 off four overs and Scott Styris 2-20 off his four overs, but it was a good all round effort in the field to leave Middlesex with a real prospect of qualifying for the knockout stages of the competition. Owais Shah won the ‘man of the match’ award.

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