Sussex won by four runs
Stephen Eskinazi’s 94 proved in vain as Middlesex went down by four runs to Sussex at Lord’s to set an unwanted record of eight successive defeats at the start of this Vitality Blast campaign.
Seaxes skipper Eskinazi batted throughout the chase for 182 but needing to hit the last ball from Tymal Mills for six he swung and missed, leaving Sussex the victors. It means 12 successive defeats in all in the format for the men of Lord’s.
Sussex, for whom this was just the second win of the campaign, owed much to Pakistan international Shadab Khan’s 59 from 30 balls. He shared a fourth wicket stand of 91 with veteran skipper Ravi Bopara (38), a record for the south coast outfit against Middlesex in the Blast.
Luke Hollman and Ryan Higgins were the pick of the home attack with two wickets apiece – and Middlesex initially held sway in the powerplay, removing Michael Burgess and Tom Alsop cheaply.
The former’s scratchy effort ended when he nicked De Caires to Jack Davies and there was a second catch for the wicketkeeper when Alsop flashed at a wide one from Martin Andersson.
Tom Clark twice swung Andersson over the ropes but should have been caught attempting the hat-trick only for Higgins to drop a dolly at mid-wicket. And the opener was given another life when he charged Hollman only for Davies to miss the stumping.
Higgins atoned in part for the drop when he bowled Clark soon afterwards but wicket-taking balls had been wasted and that proved costly when Khan and Bopara went on the offensive.
Khan was especially belligerent with two glorious straight hits among his five sixes as he sped to 50 in 24 balls. Bopara proved an excellent foil.
But Khan eventually slashed Higgins to Andersson on the point fence to spark a mini collapse. The skipper, Bopara, followed but James Coles (21) employed the long handle to good effect as the visitors posted an imposing score.
The hosts made another poor start when Joe Cracknell lobbed Fynn Hudson-Prentice’s first ball to mid-on’s hands. But three successive fours from Eskinazi in Henry Crocombe’s first over gave them some impetus. Eskinazi flat-batted Tymal Mills over point for six as 60 came from the powerplay.
Eskinazi raced to 50 in 31 balls, with a six and five fours, and Pieter Malan caught the mood, pulling Mills into the Tavern Stand hospitality boxes.
Bopara, in a typically frugal spell, ended a stand of 85 when he bowled Malan for 36. Middlesex needed 79 from the final 48 balls.
Max Holden was reprieved on four when dropped at cover only to hole out at mid-wicket off Nathan McAndrew with 43 needed but successive fours from new man Jack Davies kept the hosts in the hunt.
Two more fours from the wicketkeeper’s flashing blade off the expensive Mills left 21 needed from the final two overs and when Eskinazi lapped McAndrew that elusive win looked in sight.
Davies though departed to a brilliant catch by Clark on the mid-off fence and 12 off the last over proved too many.
Sussex’s Pakistan all-rounder Shadab Khan said: “It’s amazing because no one gets the opportunity to easily play at Lord’s.
“We were very positive and had nothing to lose here as we haven’t started well as a team. We wanted to win badly – and we were on the right side tonight.
“We (he and Bopara) are the most experienced players in our team so we had to use that experience. I didn’t start well in this tournament so that innings I needed badly as well.
“It’s the beauty of cricket. We started well the first four overs with the ball but they finished the powerplay well.
“When Ravi and I bowled our eight overs, we were in the game at that time and, at the end, Tymal (Mills) used all his experience and bowled well.”