Natwest T20 Blast: Middlesex beaten by London rivals Surrey
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Natwest T20 Blast: Surrey (156-7) beat Middlesex (141-7) by 15 runs
Surrey overcame London rivals Middlesex by 15 runs in front of a full house at the Kia Oval on an incident-packed night in the NatWest T20 Blast.
Surrey’s defence of a total of 156 for 7 almost became a sideshow after a lengthy delay during their innings for an incident involving former England captain Kevin Pietersen.
The 37-year-old passed a strenuous fitness test on his left calf before play but the injury flared up again when he played his first ball from Steven Finn into the leg side and failed to respond to Aaron Finch’s call for a single. Finch, who had made 40 from 21 balls, was run out before Pietersen asked umpires Michael Gough and Alex Wharf for a runner.
Under the playing regulations Middlesex captain Brendon McCullum could have refused but agreed to the request, although it took 15 minutes for play to resume while Jason Roy eventually emerged to act as the runner and McCullum explained the decision to his team-mates.
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A limping Pietersen lasted just nine balls, hitting four singles before top-edging Finn’s short ball to mid-wicket but he made a point of thanking McCullum for his gesture as he made his way back to the pavilion.
Later, there was another hold-up when Middlesex batsman Paul Stirling, who spent part of the Surrey innings off the field, was sent back by the umpires when he came out to bat and Eoin Morgan had to come in at No.3 instead.
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The difference in the end was that Surrey made good use of the power-play on a tired, slow wicket which turned for the spinners and offered seam movement for the quicks, and also fielded better.
Roy and Finch took a liking to Tim Southee, hitting 25 off his first two overs with Surrey’s 50 coming up in the fifth over when Finch deposited James Franklin 30 rows back beyond long-off. The power-play yielded 66 runs compared to Middlesex’s 38.
Leg-spinner Nathan Sowter broke the stand in his first over when Roy (29) picked out deep square leg with a slog-sweep and Sowter took another key wicket when Kumar Sangakkara holed out to long on.
Having got to 50 from 28 balls it took Surrey another 53 to go to 100 but Ollie Pope improvised effectively towards the end of the innings, hitting four boundaries in 31 off 24 balls and, having successfully defended 150 on the same pitch two nights earlier, Surrey were in the driving seat.
They got a big boost when the dangerous McCullum holed out during an excellent first over by Jade Dernbach and Malan, who was called into England’s Test squad for the first time on Thursday, also fell cheaply when Roy held a good catch at deep square leg.
Middlesex were 63 for 3 at halfway and although Morgan briefly flourished, hitting one six off onto the second tier of the pavilion off Dernbach, even he struggled for fluency and eventually picked out deep square-leg with a slog-sweep having made 32 at a run a ball.
Middlesex needed 70 off five overs but James Franklin (38) and John Simpson (27) kept their hopes alive by thrashing 37 from 22 balls to get the equation down to 36 off three.
But both fell to Sam Curran in the space of four balls the 18th over and Surrey were on their way to a fifth successive home win over their London rivals to cement their place in the top four in the South Group, to the delight of a 23,418 crowd.
After the match, Middlesex captain Brendon McCullum admitted the visitors allowed Surrey too many runs doing the powerplay overs.
“In the powerplay we probably gave them too much width. I didn’t think it was a great wicket but Surrey adapted to the conditions a lot better. We played okay, but we didn’t do enough to win the game,” said the New Zealander.
“It was an old wicket which was a little slow and we were a little slow to adapt so we have to take it on the chin. I just think with the world class players here they deserved to see a few more fours and sixes.
“With the Kevin Pietersen incident, I just wanted to make sure it didn’t bother us and we got on with the game. What you don’t want to do is get his back up because he could have played a sublime hand so the smart thing was accept that he needed a runner and to remain on task.”