Eoin Morgan and Paul Stirling hammered centuries for Middlesex as they struck down the Lightning in this Clydesdale Bank 40 clash at Lord's
The hosts won convincingly by 167 runs with Morgan recorded the fastest century of the English summer so far off 49 balls, going on to reach 116 off 54 balls with eleven sixes and six fours, while Stirling hit 12 fours and five sixes in 119 off 99 balls as the Panthers posted an insurmountable 350-6 from their 40 overs.
Stirling and Joe Denly (58) shared 142 in 20 overs for the second wicket after Middlesex had been reduced to 26-1 in the fourth over when Dawid Malan was caught behind off Ajmal Shahzad’s bowling. And then came the real fireworks as Stirling and Morgan added 126 in 10.5 overs for the third wicket as the visitors toiled on a belter of a pitch against a short boundary to one-side.
The size of the boundary did not affect the outcome of the match, as a number of the sixes hit towards the Mound and Tavern Stands would have cleared any boundary. But there is no doubt that Lancashire would have been chasing fewer runs had it been of normal size.
The visitors were at least given something to smile about in the face of their second defeat in five Group A matches as left-arm spinner Gary Keedy clinched figures of 5-55 from his seven overs.
But, unfortunately, Lancashire never looked like chasing down the runs. They slipped to 22-3, 33-4 and 55-5, and were eventually bowled out for 183 in 35 overs. Paul Horton top-scored with 49 off 46 balls. Tom Smith and Steven Crook each took three wickets for Middlesex.
“We came here with a bit of weather around, so we opted to bowl first,” said Keedy. “There was a short boundary, very short in fact, and we didn’t know what a good score was. Unfortunately, 350 proved to be very good. They way Morgan played, it was very difficult to defend.
“When you go out to bat, you’ve got to have some kind of self belief that you’re going to get somewhere near the total. But, as we’ve seen before, it’s a difficult ask once the rate gets to ten an over. Batting, bowling and fielding, we were totally out-played. Sometimes you’ve just got to take you’re hat off and say well played to the opposition.”
Keedy, one of three spinners in the side, took advantage of the search for quick runs by getting Denly, Stirling, Morgan, Gareth Berg and Neil Dexter either caught or stumped. The wickets of Stirling and Berg, the latter stumped by Gareth Cross, came within five balls in the 35th over as the hosts passed 300.
Morgan was the leading light for Middlesex as he warms up for England’s forthcoming one-day series against the West Indies and Australia. He scored his first century in county cricket since 2009, looking incredibly strong on the leg-side, especially playing the sweep and pull.
Lancashire were under the cosh from the moment Stephen Moore was caught one-handed by Malan at first slip off Toby Roland-Jones in the third over. Croft was caught behind off former team-mate Crook shortly afterwards, who also had Ashwell Prince caught at point.
Karl Brown fell in similar fashion to Prince, this time falling to Smith’s left-arm spin. And when Cross was trapped lbw by the same bowler, Lancashire were five down and still 296 away from their target.
Middlesex hit 18 sixes in their innings, but Lancashire only hit one. That came from the bat of Shahzad when he reverse swept Smith for six high into the Tavern Stand. But, having shared 50 for the sixth wicket with Horton, the fast bowler fell caught and bowled by Smith to leave the score at 105-6 in the 20th.
Horton was run out by Crook’s direct hit from extra cover in the 25th over as he tried to scamper home for his fifty before Mahmood, who earlier conceded 82 runs from his eight overs with the ball, was bowled by Crook for 29.
Simon Kerrigan holed out off Denly’s leg-spin before Stephen Parry was bowled by Malan to end the contest. Lancashire’s next outing signals the start of Twenty20 on Thursday when they face Derbyshire Falcons under the floodlights at the County Ground.
Photo (c) Simon Pendrigh
Article (c) Lancashire CCC Ltd