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Middlesex suffer Twenty20 reverse at hands of Sussex
Sussex, whose previous two Twenty20 games had been abandoned due to bad weather, finally got their campaign off to an impressive start as they comfortably beat a struggling Middlesex side that have lost both their opening games in the competition.
The visitors, who elected to bat after winning the toss, scored 143 for eight off their 20 overs, with Middlesex managing just 132 for seven in reply.
Middlesex got off to a flying start after Steven Crook (two for 29) took the wicket of the ever-dangerous Sussex and England batsman Luke Wright, who managed just one run before edging behind to the wicketkeeper.
The bowling side continued to make inroads into the batting line-up - Matt Machan (9) was easily caught after attempting a big shot off Crook and not long after Nash (9) and Gatting (11) were back in the pavilion, leaving Sussex in an awkward position at 56 for four with half their innings to go. Fortunately for Sussex, their two highly experienced batsmen - Murray Goodwin (43) and former Middlesex star Scott Styris (48) - pulled the innings back from the brink.
The Lord’s crowd were treated to a masterful Twenty20 batting display as they peppered the boundaries to form a brisk 56-run partnership and take Sussex to a very respectable 112 for five after 16.1 overs.
However, Middlesex paceman Toby Roland-Jones (two for 19) found extra pace in a sedate pitch to clean bowl Goodwin and in his next over, trapped Styris leg before wicket to halt Sussex’s progress.
Gareth Berg (three for 17) wrapped up the Sussex innings, securing the wickets of Brown (9) and Michael Yardy (1), leaving Sussex with a competitive total of 143 for eight.
Middlesex set out at the start of their innings to not lose any early wickets but an overly cautious 11 runs off the first three overs put them on the back foot. Soon enough, their tentative start set the tone for the rest of their innings as ruthless Sussex paceman Chris Liddle (five for 17) tore apart a fragile-looking batting line-up.
Joe Denly was the first to go, the opening batsman horribly mis-timing a drive off Liddle to send the ball sky-high and eventually landing into the grateful hands of the patiently waiting Matt Machan.
Berg (23) was the next man to fall before Liddle took three wickets in just four balls in a thrilling penultimate over.
Dexter (36), Simpson (10) and Rogers (0) all succumbed to the 6ft 4ins left-arm fast bowler, who ensured the hosts could never get a partnership going and left them 11 runs short in a disappointing batting display in front of the home crowd.
Speaking afterwards, Sussex batsman Styris said: “We thought 140 runs was enough to win the game on this wicket. It took a punch from Murray Goodwin and myself to set up the last few guys to be able to hit.”