Middlesex slump to 77-run defeat

Gloucestershire 246 for 9 beat Middlesex 169 by 77 runs

Middlesex suffered their first defeat of the Clydesdale Bank 40 campaign after an error-strewn run chase against Group B rivals Gloucestershire under the floodlights at Lord’s saw them go down with 51 balls to spare. The Panthers never recovered from a miserable start to their pursuit of 247 and were quickly dismissed for 169 to lose by 77 runs as Anthony Ireland bagged 3 for 36 and Steve Kirby and Vikram Banerjee took two wickets apiece.

Home openers Andrew Strauss (14) and Scott Newman (11) fell inside nine overs, the England Test captain pulling firmly into the hands of Hamish Marshall at deep square leg off Jon Lewis then, eight runs on, fellow left-hander Newman hooked an Ireland lifter to Banerjee at long leg. Owais Shah marched in to pull two sixes into the Tavern Stand off the front foot against Ireland and then drove wristily through extra cover against Kirby to post the Middlesex 50.

In aiming for a third six, Shah (32 from 33 balls) heaved across the line at left-armer James Franklin only to pick out Lewis at deep fine-leg and make it 74 for 3. Neil Dexter (16), in trying to force a straight one through the covers, was stumped by Jonathan Batty off Banerjee, who then bowled Gareth Berg (17) as he aimed through mid on. Then, when Dawid Malan (42) was run out by Batty’s direct hit after being sent back by non-striker John Simpson, the Panthers’ victory chances went with him.

Marshall’s six fours and a six during a 71-ball innings of 85 allowed the visitors to canter along at more than six runs an over after winning the toss. The stocky, mop-topped right-hander, who turned his back on international cricket at the end of 2007, featured in a third-wicket stand worth 74 in 11 overs with Batty (54) that helped Gloucestershire recover from a sticky start.

Franklin (2) went in the third over to a low catch at cover by Malan and William Porterfield smeared across the line against Toby Roland-Jones to go leg before for 21. Marshall and Batty sparked the fightback taking 15 from Dexter’s sole over, then Batty reached his half-century from 74 balls by pulling his fifth boundary through midwicket off Tim Murtagh.

Murtagh again dropped short, allowing Marshall to hook for six into the Tavern Stand and race to 50 from 43 balls, only for Batty to hole out at long off soon after against Shaun Udal. Udal chipped in with two wickets, Ireland (0) was yorked by Murtagh but crucially, Collins overstepped to concede a no ball and gift Jonathan Lewis a life after Berg took the catch at long on. Lewis cashed in by pulling the resultant free hit for six and repeated the dose two balls later. Some 19 runs came from Collins’ final over, as he finished with 3 for 46.

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