Middlesex skipper Dexter says team buoyed by Somerset tie

Four successive defeats ended after 17-run final over secures share of the points with rivals

Skipper Neil Dexter says Middlesex will take a big dose of confidence into their next few games after Sunday’s thrilling t20 tie with Somerset.

The Panthers ended their run of four straight Friends Life t20 defeats by hitting 17 off the last over to share the spoils with probable quarter-finalists Somerset at Southgate.

Although that result came far too late to salvage Middlesex’s t20 hopes, Dexter believes their improvement will spill over into the coming week, when they resume their Clydesdale Bank 40 and County Championship campaigns.

“We’ve got to be proud,” said the Middlesex captain. “Obviously we’ll take a draw – it almost feels like a win at the moment and we’re the happier team walking off the field.

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“We’re a young team and we showed a lot of fight – I’m pleased with the way the guys stuck together. The last two games have shown a lot of good positive signs, even though we haven’t won them, and we need to build on those.

“To draw against Somerset is not a bad result and I think we took a lot of confidence from the game against Surrey as well. They’re a very strong team and we almost chased down a big total.

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“We have tried hard in the t20 and things haven’t gone our way, but I think you’ll find a lot of teams who are doing well in the Championship this year have struggled with t20.”

The Panthers have batted second – and rarely threatened to be successful – in three of those four recent losses, but they produced a valiant attempt against Surrey Lions, with Dexter hitting 49 and Jamie Dalrymple 48 as they fell nine runs short of a 183 target.

Somerset never looked like setting that kind of target at the Walker Ground on Sunday as Tim Murtagh, Dexter and spinner Tom Smith kept the scoring rate down.

Former Middlesex all-rounder Peter Trego top-scored with 36 before he fell to Smith, while Ryan McLaren’s figures of 3-37 included a superb yorker to get rid of James Hildreth (31).

McLaren also had West Indian all-rounder Kieron Pollard caught behind for 33 in the final over as Somerset were restricted to 143-6.

The Panthers lost Sam Robson early on, caught behind off Luke Gregory (3-26), but a flurry of boundaries from Scott Newman (33) kept them up with the required run-rate as he and John Simpson (18) added 46.

Murali Kartik and Arul Suppiah applied the brakes, though, with Kartik taking a boundary catch to remove Newman and prising out Dalrymple (10) to leave the Panthers’ hopes resting with Dexter and McLaren.

When Dexter edged Gregory behind for 33, Somerset scented victory – but McLaren (25) refused to give up hope and launched two successive sixes off Pollard to leave Middlesex needing four runs from three balls.

McLaren attempted to repeat the trick again, but this time he skied into the hands of Joss Buttler and Smith hit the next delivery for two before scrambling a single to tie the scores at 143-8.

The point means that Middlesex are still in a position to avoid finishing bottom of the South group when they take on Gloucestershire Gladiators on Wednesday night. They complete their t20 campaign against Hampshire, who have already qualified for the quarter-finals, at the Rose Bowl on Friday.

Batsman Dawid Malan, who has been out of action with a hamstring injury, is expected to return to the side – if not in the t20, for Middlesex’s next CB40 fixture against Yorkshire at Headingley Carnegie on Sunday.

“Dawid played a club game on Saturday to test his fitness and things seem all right, so hopefully he’ll be around,” added Dexter.

“He’s a big player that we’ve missed for most of the t20 – he’s been a top batsman for the last few years and he can bowl a bit too, so that gives you some options.”

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