Holden’s magnificent century almost gets Middlesex over the line in Blast

               Middlesex    vs Kent Spitfires

         Vitality Blast South Group Friday 16th June 2023

           Kent Spitfires 228-3 (20)  Middlesex   215-7 (20)     

             Kent Spitfires won by  13  runs

                Peter Moore at Lords

A career best unbeaten 121 by Max Holden spearheaded a valiant Middlesex chase, but they just fell short of a record Lord’s T20 total from Kent Spitfires.

Holden, single handily led his sides pursuit of an improbable target of 229 to maintain their hopes of finally breaking their duck in the competition, but the visitors held their nerve at the death to record their second successive South Group win.

Kent won the toss and elected to bat first on a glorious Friday evening in London, looking for just their third victory in the group.

The opening pair of Kent batters, Daniel Bell-Drummond and Tawanda Muyeye built a solid platform for the rest of the innings by putting on 88 for the first wicket. Bell-Drummond, swinging and taking a few chances early on including a six over the deep square leg boundary off Blake Cullen before driving the Middlesex seamer through the covers for a boundary.

His partner Muyeye was slightly more circumspect with just a single maximum after lifting Martin Andersson over the long on fence before being caught off a no ball from Cullen when on 36.

A couple of deliveries later Cullen got his revenge when Muyeye(38) was caught by Jack Davies at mid on.

The visitors were going at ten an over, with the score 103 -1 at the half way point with Bell-Drummond four short of a half century.

It wasn’t long before Bell-Drummond brought up his 50, driving Luke Hollman threw the covers for his seventh boundary in a half century coming off 33 balls.

Bell-Drummond proceeded to lift Cullen into the pavilion for his second maximum of the evening before the very next delivery was caught at backward point for 66 coming off 42 balls.

With Spitfires looking to post a challenging total, Joe Denly opened his shoulders by smashing Hollman over long on for a maximum and reverse sweeping the Middlesex spinner for a boundary before another maximum from the willow of Denly’s bat saw Joshua De Caires despatched over long on, with De Caires finishing with 1-31 off his four overs.

There was still time for Denly to bring up his 50 off 28 balls as Middlesex’s woes continued when Tom Helm was removed from the attack after bowling two beamers.

The visitors went on to hit 125 in the last ten overs, with Denly and Sam Billings putting on 63 in 25 balls to lift Kent to a total of 228 -3 in their 20 overs.

Denly finished unbeaten on 73 coming off 37 balls with Billings cameo role of 24 off 18 balls as Kent posted a record score against Middlesex in the competition.

Facing a daunting total to claim their first victory in this seasons Blast, Middlesex’s reply started badly when Joe Cracknell(3) edged Michael Hogan behind to the Australian’s second delivery of the game.

Middlesex’s captain Eskinazi(24) launched into Fred Klaassen with a maximum over long on before top edging into the waiting gloves of Billings.

With Middlesex in trouble, Max Holden joined Ryan Higgins in the middle with the pair trying to drag the hosts back into the match.

Kent soon lost the bowling services of Grant Stewart after he was taken out of the attack after bowling two beamers in his opening three deliveries, with Denly having to complete the remaining three balls of the over.

With Middlesex posting their 100 in the ninth over, Hogan returned back from the nursery end to end a 77 run partnership between Higgins and Holden when the Australian took a very low catch off his own bowling with Higgins falling for 35.

With the run rate approaching almost twelve runs per over, wickets began to fall, with Australian Kane Richardson removing John Simpson(4) and Jack Davies(4) inside four deliveries.

It was down to Holden to get Middlesex close to pulling off a remarkable victory. He brought up a superb hundred off 49 balls including nine fours and five sixes to edge the hosts closer to their target.

With 36 required off 12 deliveries, Holden picked up 11 runs off four balls with Middlesex requiring an unlikely 24 off the final over bowled by spinner George Linde. Martin Andersson picked up a single with the first ball of the over with Holden taking  four of the next two deliveries before straight driving Linde down the ground for four.

A single followed before Andersson(5) holed out in the deep off the last ball of the game, with Middlesex finishing 13 short of their target and Holden’s valiant efforts all in vain.