Captain Eskinazi’s efforts all in vain as Middlesex suffer eighth successive defeat in their Blast campaign

                                            Middlesex    vs Sussex Sharks

                                       Sussex Sharks  181-7 (20) Middlesex  177-5 (20)

                                           Sussex Sharks won by four runs

                              Vitality Blast South Group Thursday 8th June 2023                                      

                                               Peter Moore at Lords

Skipper Stephen Eskinaz’s magnificent 94 proved in vain as Middlesex fell four runs short of their target for their eight straight loss in the competition.

Needing to hit a maximum off the last ball from Tymal Mills, he swung and missed , with the visitors celebrating just their second victory in the campaign.

Going in to this match, both sides had started the competition in poor form with Sussex Sharks winning just one game thus far, and the hosts still looking to open their account in the competition.

Sussex won the toss and decided to bat first on a glorious early June evening with the ground bathed in sunshine.

The Sussex opening pair of Tom Clark and Michael Burgess put on 25 for the first wicket before Burgess(5) feathered behind off Josh De Caires’s third ball.

Martin Andersson was introduced into the attack and immediately had Tom Alsop(3) caught behind with just his second delivery of the match.

Sussex could well have been in danger of losing a couple more quick wickets but were reprieved when Ryan Higgins dropped a dolly of a catch at midwicket when Clark had made 34.

Middlesex dropped another chance shortly afterwards when Jack Davies missed a stumping when Ravi Bopara had made five.

However, Higgins made up for his error  by having Clark(39) play on after he had made five more runs.

The visitors were indebted to Bopara and Pakistani all rounder Shadab Khan who put on 91- a record fourth wicket partnership between the sides in this competition- in 46 balls before Shadab holed out in the deep for 50 made off 30 balls including fix six’s and four fours.

When it looked like Sussex would post a big total, Middlesex and Luke Hollman at least stopped the flow of runs with Hollman bagging the wickets of Danial Ibrahim(1) and Nathan McAndrew(0) in the space of three balls, before the dangerous Bopara(38) fell in the 18th over, with the Sharks posting a healthy 181 for 7 in their twenty overs.oHollman H

Middlesex’s reply started off badly when Joe Cracknell(1) steered Fynn Hudson-Prentice’s first ball straight into the hands of James Coles at mid-on.

It was down to skipper Stephen Eskinazi and Pieter Malan to dig Middlesex out of a hole. The pair added 85 in 61 balls before Malan(36) chopped on off Bopara.

Eskinazi was trying to get the hosts over the line for their first victory in the competition. With Max Holden assisting the captain the pair brough the equation down to 43 from 23 balls when Holden(17) holed out in the deep.

The captain received valuable support from Jack Davies(19) from nine balls before he fell to a brilliant catch from Cole on the boundary rope. He caught the ball before going over the rope and managing to parry it back into play. After the umpires called for the third umpires decision, it was given as out.

It was down to 12 required off six balls with Tymal Mills bowling the final over. After three expensive overs going for 36, his first delivery he bowled Luke Hollman(3). A dot ball and a bye followed with 11 from three balls.

Eskinazi then hit a boundary to leave seven from two balls. A quickly run two saw Eskinazi dive home with five required off the final ball, Eskinazi took a swing at Mills with the ball going through to the wicketkeeper for a Sussex Sharks victory by four runs with Eskinazi falling six short of a century.