Middlesex spinner seeks to revive Twenty20 fortunes in Sussex clash

Spinner Ravi Patel is eager to make up for lost time after returning from injury – and halt Middlesex’s horrific nose-dive in the NatWest T20 Blast.

The 23-year-old left-armer has been a mainstay of the county’s T20 side in recent years, but a fractured thumb forced him to sit out six games prior to his reappearance against Somerset last week.

There was certainly no fairytale comeback for Patel, whose four overs went for 47 runs as the visitors flayed Middlesex’s bowling to triumph by nine wickets at Uxbridge.

However, the young spinner takes a positive outlook, both with regards to his injury and his comeback game – which handed Middlesex their fifth consecutive T20 defeat.

“I don’t think I bowled terribly but things didn’t go my way,” said Patel. “The batsmen played very well and Somerset carried through a perfect run chase.

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“I’m just happy to be back, although obviously the result didn’t go to plan – it was a tough one to return in but I’ll definitely learn from it.

“I’ve been able to bowl a lot in the nets, so I’m not really rusty action-wise. But you’re always a bit rusty in the sense of a game scenario, with your instincts, looking at the batsmen’s signals and things like that.

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“It’s never ideal to be injured at any stage, but I’d rather have missed the month that I missed than July or August, because that’s when spinners are most effective and they’re relied upon more.

“I’m just trying to put that behind me now – it’s done, I missed it and I can’t change it. I’m fit now and first of all I need to try and impress and do well when selected.”

Even if Middlesex’s hopes of reaching the T20 knockout stages appear to be all but over, Patel feels it is essential to break their losing streak as soon as possible.

Their next assignment is the visit of Sussex Sharks to Lord’s on Thursday night – one of the two sides Middlesex have already beaten in the South group.

“I didn’t play in that game – it was just after I got injured – but most of the players did and having beaten Sussex before will certainly help, as well as being back at Lord’s,” observed Patel.

“If we play well, there’s a good chance we can get a win and go from there. I think, similar to last year, we haven’t won those crucial moments and that’s Twenty20 cricket in a nutshell.

“Everyone’s at a similar level but the teams that win those crucial moments, perform under pressure and nail their skills when it matters, win games. We haven’t managed to do that.

“We’ve been on this horrible run, so we have to do something to turn it around. No matter what form of cricket, even if it’s a pre-season friendly, you want to win and everyone at Middlesex is desperate to do that.”

Middlesex are expected to give a debut to their new T20 signing, New Zealand paceman Mitchell McClenaghan – who fills the second overseas slot vacated by Kyle Abbott – against Sussex (6.15pm).

The 29-year-old has played 22 one-day internationals and 11 T20 games for his country and represented Lancashire over the last two seasons, as well as turning out for Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League.

“Obviously he’s a fast bowler and he’ll bring a different angle, as a left-armer,” said Middlesex head coach Richard Scott. “He had a really good IPL and we’re really looking forward to working with him.

“We’ll miss Kyle, but Mitch has a proven track record – the different angle will help us and his expertise will hopefully rub off on the rest of the group as well. We’re excited about that.

“I think we’ve batted well in the competition, if you look at the scores we’ve accumulated, but we’ve really struggled to keep the opposition to a manageable total.

“The recent series between England and New Zealand has shown that bowlers are finding it tough on good pitches and with fielding restrictions as they are. Bowlers around the country are scratching their heads and trying to come up with a plan.”

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