Essex win last ball thriller against Middlesex in Vitality Blast
- Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo
Stevie Eskinazi’s maiden T20 hundred proved in vain as Essex won a last-ball thriller by two wickets against hosts Middlesex at Lord’s.
Eskinazi hit two sixes and 11 fours in an unbeaten 102 as Middlesex reached 183-2.
Essex appeared to be cantering home on 170-3 with 11 balls remaining, but Dan Lawrence’s dismissal for 59 sparked a collapse during which the host’s New Zealand debutant Daryl Mitchell took three wickets in four balls.
But Simon Harmer had the final say, squirting the ball beyond short third man’s clutches for the winning boundary.
The hosts promoted Joe Cracknell to opener, but it was Eskinazi who gave the innings early impetus with a flurry of boundaries, including a six off Jamie Porter into the Tavern stand.
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With Cracknell also finding the fence 56 came from the powerplay, Eskinazi reaching 50 from 29 balls soon afterwards with his sixth four.
The stand realised 80 before Cracknell fell lbw to Aron Nijjar. Calm followed as the hosts went four overs without a boundary, before oversea ace Mitchell on his Middlesex debut broke the shackles, he and Eskinazi taking 17 from one Paul Walter over
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Mitchell (29) holed out in the deep to end a stand of 64, but Eskinazi responded by depositing Sam Cook into the Mound Stand.
John Simpson weighed in with the biggest six of the night over cow corner before Eskinazi reached his century in the final over.
Needing 184, The Eagles made a flying start courtesy of Will Buttleman and Adam Wheater.
However, Buttleman was run out by Gubbins’s direct hit and Finn scattered Wheater’s stumps.
Lawrence and Michael Pepper took up the chase, the latter sweeping Nathan Sowter for a huge six as the 50 stand came up in 38 balls.
Pepper was caught and bowled for a career-best 43, but the visitors looked to be coasting as England man Lawrence clouted Tom Helm over the ropes at long on before repeating the dose off Steven Finn.
But Lawrence’s demise sparked a collapse as five wickets fell for nine runs in nine balls.
Helm bowled Jimmy Neesham before Mitchell took centre stage. Walter skied one to Chris Green, Ryan Ten Doeschate edged behind and Nijjar was brilliantly caught by Sowter.
With four needed off the last ball Harmer swung to leg, but the ball took the outside edge, evaded third man and crawled over the rope to give Essex a famous win.
Middlesex centurion Stevie Eskinazi said: "It's incredibly disappointing. I'm not usually one to say cricket teams are unlucky or don't have the rub of the green, but I think over the last week or two we can consider ourselves just that.
"The way we are playing our cricket should give you more wins than we've got. We are playing better than the ladder suggests.
"I know that is no consolation for the members and fans who support us, but the way we are playing it will turn and it'll turn quickly.
"It is phenomenally tough to take. We said that a lot over the last few months, but fundamentally it is a results business and we are aware of that. We'd rather play shocking and win than play well and lose.
"I'm pleased with my contribution and said at the halfway mark it's a phenomenal knock if we win the game, but it's not much consolation there at the end."
Essex batsman Dan Lawrence said: "It was a pretty nerve-wracking final over. I guess it wouldn't be an Essex game if it didn't go down to the final over.
"He writes his own scripts does Harmy (Simon Harmer). I always have the feeling when he's in the game something seems to happen. It was obviously a little bit fortuitous, but we'll certainly take it.
"I think their score was about par and our bowlers bowled better than their figures suggested. There was a very short boundary so we were comfortable chasing 180-200."
"But things can happen very quickly in T20 and the game can get away from you in a few balls. I was gutted not to take us over the line because Jimmy and I really wanted to do that."