Natwest T20 Blast: Finn fires Middlesex to big win
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Steve Finn, with a display of fast and aggressive bowling, led Middlesex to a 61-run win over Gloucestershire in the Natwest T20 Blast at Uxbridge.
Finn had figures of 4-24, his best in the competition, and was well supported by Tim Southee (3-9) as Middlesex kept their hopes of a quarter-final place alive.
Gloucestershire, chasing a target of 162, made a shaky start when Southee had Michael Klinger caught at slip by Adam Voges with only the second ball of the innings.
Then Finn, showing the pace and menace that has seen him make 126 appearances for England across all formats, struck with the first and final deliveries of his second over.
First he bowled the dangerous looking Ian Cockbain with a devastating yorker and then Cameron Bancroft, attempting to keep the ball out of his stumps, played on.
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By the end of the next over, the fifth, Gloucestershire already looked out of it at 25-5 as Tom Helm bowled Phil Mustard with a slower ball and then, with his next delivery, he had Kieran Noema-Barnett caught at mid-off by Southee, again with a slower ball.
At 56-5 at the halfway stage of their innings Gloucestershire still looked well beaten, but then Benny Howell hit a vast six over mid-on as 13 came from Nathan Sowter’s over.
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Another 10 came from the next, bowled by Ryan Higgins, who was hit over mid-wicket for six by Jack Taylor.
But then Finn, returning to bowl his last over, made two crucial breakthroughs as he had Taylor caught down the legside for 31 and then, two balls later, had Howell caught off a skier to the keeper.
When Southee struck two blows with successive balls in the next over the contest really was over.
Middlesex – this was their first T20 win over Gloucestershre - were heavily dependent on a fourth-wicket stand of 66 in seven overs between Stevie Eskinazi and Voges.
Eskinazi took time to play himself in but then struck a 39-ball 47, with three fours and the first of only two sixes in the Middlesex innings, struck high over mid-wicket off Graeme van Burren in the 17th over.
Voges made a classy looking 38 from 27 balls, with three fours, before the two batsmen were out in successive overs towards the end of the innings.
The hosts lost their first wicket in the fourth over when John Simpson sliced David Payne to Ian Cockbain at backward point, but that was also the over in which Paul Stirling really launched the Middlesex innings, pulling, driving and then sweeping Payne’s final three deliveries for fours.
At 75-1 after 10 overs Middlesex had the basis of a challenging total, but Stirling, who had hit six fours in his 31-ball 44, was caught on the deep mid-wicket boundary off Tom Smith off the first delivery of the 11th over.
Smith struck again two balls later when he dismissed Eoin Morgan, reverse sweeping, for a duck before Eskinazi and Voges pulled the innings round to help Middlesex to 161-5.
Middlesex captain Morgan said: “Our bowling performance today was the best of the tournament so far. And that was after we had shown a lot of skill and maturity with the bat.
“You don’t want to peak to early in this competition. We’ll take this confidence to Cardiff on Friday for a crucial match.”