Pakistan star secures Twenty20 win for Essex against Middlesex at Lord's
PUBLISHED: 22:41 28 July 2016 | UPDATED: 22:41 28 July 2016
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Pakistan all-rounder Ashar Zaidi blazed an unbeaten half-century to strengthen Essex's chances of joining Middlesex in the NatWest T20 Blast quarter-finals.
Zaidi struck 59 from just 43 balls as Essex triumphed by five wickets at Lord’s to stay in contention for a place in the last eight, for which their opponents have already qualified.
However, Middlesex – for whom Dawid Malan hit an undefeated 68 – cannot now secure a home tie in the quarter-finals, even if they win their final group match against Gloucestershire on Friday.
Essex won the toss at Lord’s and bowled tightly, with Graham Napier (2-25) and Ryan ten Doeschate (2-18) proving particularly difficult for the home side to get away.
Although Nick Gubbins (13) put on 49 for the first wicket with Malan before driving Dan Lawrence to long-off, nobody else was able to stay with the skipper for any length of time.
James Franklin (10), George Bailey (7) and John Simpson (7) all perished in the chase for runs, with Ryan Higgins bowled first ball attempting a paddle shot off Napier.
Malan finished with an unbeaten 68 from 51 balls, while Toby Roland-Jones (13no) slammed successive boundaries in the final over to propel his side to 126-5.
Essex faltered at the start of their reply, with Jesse Ryder (1) skying Ollie Rayner to mid-off and Tom Westley (6) falling to a fine Gubbins catch on the boundary to leave them wobbling at 10-2.
Nick Browne (15) made 15 before falling leg before to Nathan Sowter, while Essex skipper Ravi Bopara was run out for six – but Lawrence and Zaidi kept their side in the hunt.
Lawrence hit 36 before he flicked James Franklin to backward square – but Zaidi hammered two colossal sixes off the penultimate over from Roland-Jones, which cost 20 runs in all.
Another big six from the Pakistan star sealed victory with three balls to spare as Middlesex’s three-match winning streak in Twenty20 came to an end.